A flight from Dallas to Beijing was detoured to Alberta Thursday afternoon following a medical emergency and a mechanical issue.

Flight AA263 departed Dallas-Fort Worth late Thursday morning and was scheduled to arrive in Beijing  Friday afternoon. The Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner was diverted to Edmonton International Airport due to an undisclosed medical concern involving a passenger but rerouted to Calgary International Airport due to its longer runway.

American Airlines officials confirm to CTV Calgary that the original diversion was in relation to an ill passenger but a subsequent mechanical issue prompted the decision to land in Calgary. The aircraft was fuelled to land in China and efforts were made to reduce the landing weight of the Dreamliner.

The aircraft traced a path north through Manitoba before veering southwest through northern Saskatchewan and entering Alberta just east of Fort McMurray. The flight continued towards Edmonton before circling the provincial capital and heading south. The Dreamliner looped back north around Drumheller before making its final approach to Calgary over Airdrie.

The aircraft landed at Calgary International Airport shortly before 5:00 p.m.. Emergency crews were deployed to the airport ahead of the landing on 17 Left runway..

“There was a medical situation that arose,” passenger Timothy Zhang told CTV Calgary after clearing customs at th Calgary International Airport. “The captain asked if there were any medical personnel on board to assist and volunteer. There were a couple of doctors and nurses who went and talked with this elderly lady. She was experiencing chest pain and had difficulty breathing. They got her on some oxygen and got her legs elevated and, based on their recommendation, the captain decided to divert the plane.”

“Upon getting close to Edmonton, we were told we were circling and, from what I later on gathered, the plane had mechanical difficulties, an issue with the flaps, so the plane couldn’t slowdown on the runway at Edmonton.”

Zhang says the situation was a little hectic for his family as his two-year-old son became antsy.


American Airlines officials say the passengers will be placed in hotels for the night. A second aircraft will be sent to Calgary Thursday evening and will transport the passengers to Beijing on Friday.  The rescheduled flight is expected to depart Calgary at 7:00 a.m. Friday and arrive in Beijing at 8:00 a.m. Saturday.