Yesterday, 2nd of March 2020, I was on board of Air Canada flight AC692 from Toronto (YYZ) to St. Johns (YYT). 40 minutes before landing, the plane turned around and flew back to Toronto. The flight time was supposed to be 2:20 hours, instead we flew a round of ~4 hours. The pilot announced that it "unsafe to land" in St John's. But this sounds rather ambiguous to me.
I have a colleague in St John's. He says the there was quite a bit of snow in the morning, but by the time we were in the air, all the roads were clean. This mean they easily could have cleared the runway? Overall conditions weren't too bad and the sky was clear with sun.
Wind would be another condition, but this was a Boeing 777. Those can handle a bit of wind conditions, as opposed to the smaller aircraft types?
- Why all the way back to Toronto? Why not divert to Halifax or Montreal and wait until the conditions get better?
- I was in the understanding planes don't over-fuel for safety reasons. How did we make it back to Toronto without refueling? If we wouldn't have turned back, would the plane have had too much fuel to land?
I would like to add during the landing in Toronto, flaps were pulled down rather late to my experience. The approach was rather short (in time) and spoilers were used during descend. Also, (almost) no reverse thrust was used used during braking. Does this tell me the plane was running on fumes?