Comments to this question point out that diversions and emergency landings are not the same.

Many flights between Europe and North-America pass over (very) high latitudes and cold climates such as Greenland and northern Canada. How common are diversions such as this one? Or, more specifically, out of all scheduled passenger flights between Europe and North America, how many are diverted to high latitude airports? For the purpose of this question, I am considering incidents where passengers were forced to leave the plane and change to one or more other planes, rather than a flight that lands and takes off again continuing to its final destination without passengers deplaning.

  • $\begingroup$ You may have luck by looking up incidents at the predetermined diversion airports. $\endgroup$
    – Dave
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 12:44
  • $\begingroup$ Or you can search the NTSB accident database for specific airports/countries. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 14:21
  • $\begingroup$ How far north does an airport have to be to qualify as "high latitude" by your standards? Does Goose Bay count? Does Gander? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 14:44
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelSeifert Good question. It's not only about latitude. I'd say anything very cold and very remote. $\endgroup$
    – gerrit
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 20:15

1 Answer 1


Very very uncommon. Goose Bay, Canada, is a diversion airport for US-Europe flights. If you search Aviation Herald for "goose", you will find about 2 to 3 flights divert there each year.

  • 3 flights diverted in 2017:

Delta A330 Oct 20, engine problem
SAS A340 April 16, low cabin pressure
Air France A380 Sep 30, engine structural failure

  • 2 flights diverted in 2016:

Virgin B787 Nov 22, engine oil leak
United B767 Sep 15, generator/APU failure

  • 3 flights diverted in 2015:

American B757 Sep 30, electrical problem
Delta B767 July 31, generator failure
United B767 June 12, flight controls

  • 2 flights diverted in 2014:

Delta B767 Aug 9, engine problem
Delta B767 May 1, engine shut down

In all these incidents except for 2, the report in Aviation Herald states a replacement aircraft was required. Sometimes the delay was 6 hours, sometimes the next day. In the 2 other incidents, it's unclear if a replacement aircraft was required or not, but in both cases maintenance was required, so at least a delay occurred.

This compares with a bird strike, or fumes/smoke in the cabin, almost daily somewhere. It's much rare than even lightning strikes, of which 25 were reported in 2017.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The OP asked specifically about Iqaluit. These seem to be even less common; I count three diversions by major airlines to Iqaluit since 2008 (the recent SwissAir flight, a Delta flight flying AMS–SEA with unstowed spoilers, and an American flight from LHR–ORD with a medical emergency.) Also, Goose Bay isn't that far north; its latitude about the same as Manchester. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 14:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MichaelSeifert. Fair points, though the OP does mention Greenland, and many of these diversions occurred when the aircraft was flying in the vicinity of Greenland. To some extent my answer was illustrating how they can get more info/answer their question. I updated the answer a bit because they also ask about incidents where the passengers have to change planes. $\endgroup$
    – Penguin
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 19:34

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