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Air Scare as Bolt Buries Itself in Turboprop Plane’s Window

A passenger on a commercial turboprop airplane in Canada got a scare this week when a bolt from the propeller came loose and was sent speeding like a bullet into the window next to him, in what is being called a "highly unusual incident," the passenger and the airline said.

Matt Langlois, a British Columbia man who works as a surveyor at the Fort McMurray oil sands field in Alberta, told NBC News that "my stomach jumped up into my throat" after the 1-inch bolt buried itself into the window next to his seat as the Dash 8 Series 300 plane descended to an airport in Vancouver Nov. 25.

A bolt came off a propeller on a Nov. 25 flight over Vancouver and lodged into this window. Matt Langlois

"Is the plane going to de-pressurize? What part of the wing did it come from? Is the wing breaking apart? How strong is the second pane of glass? How do I put on a mask if it drops down?" were some of the thoughts that raced through Langlois' head after the bolt buried itself into the window with a bang.

Jazz Aviation, which was operating the flight as Air Canada Express, confirmed the mishap and called it "a highly unusual incident."

"There are twelve 1-inch bolts on a 'prop spinner' on this particular type of aircraft. While on descent into Vancouver, BC on Nov. 25, flight #8353 had one of those twelve 1-inch bolts come loose and strike one of the aircraft windows. The bolt struck the exterior pane (of two acrylic window panes) which resulted in a small hole in the exterior window pane — the interior pane was not impacted," the company said in a statement.

"There was no emergency declared and the aircraft landed safely and without incident," the airline said. "We do apologize to our passengers for any concern that this incident may have caused." Langlois said "the pilots and the crew all handled it professionally and were very reassuring."

— Alexander Smith and Phil Helsel