Swiss International Air Lines Boeing 777-300 Diverts to Remote Iqaluit Airport Near Arctic Circle

Swiss Boeing 777-300 Bound for L.A. from Zurich Makes Arctic Emergency Landing of Snowy Runway

On Feb. 1, Swiss Airlines Boeing 777-300 operating as flight LX40 from Zurich, Switzerland, to Los Angeles, California, diverted to Iqaluit, Canada, capital of Nunavut in the Canadian Northern Territories.

The diversion was caused by an engine problem that required the shut down of the engine and an emergency diversion: actually, according to a statement later released by Swiss, a malfuction message caused the engine to automatically shutdown. The crew decided to make a precautionary landing.S

The selection of Iqaluit Airport (airport code: YFB) is remarkable since official sources state that Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers at this airport have only small general aviation aircraft capacity with for more than 15 passengers.

The large Boeing 777-300 can carry up to 550 passengers in its dense-capacity interior configuration. screengrab showing the track of LX40.

Video posted to YouTube show the large ETOPs (Extended Twin Operations) aircraft making a normal-looking approach and landing on a snowy runway. Additional video shows the aircraft being pushed-back with a ground tug once at the snowy airport.

Editor of, Ian D’Costa, provided this report to The Video credit on YouTube is from @Tattuinee on Twitter.

D’Costa, a veteran aviation reporter and airport operations officer told The, “[It is] unprecedented to say the least. A 777 has an ETOPS rating that would allow it to divert to Toronto, Montreal or Ottawa, or even Gander. So something must have been very concerning.”


About Tom Demerly
Tom Demerly is a feature writer, journalist, photographer and editorialist who has written articles that are published around the world on,, Outside magazine, Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, The Dearborn Press & Guide, National Interest, Russia’s government media outlet Sputnik, and many other publications. Demerly studied journalism at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. Tom Demerly served in an intelligence gathering unit as a member of the U.S. Army and Michigan National Guard. His military experience includes being Honor Graduate from the U.S. Army Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia (Cycle C-6-1) and as a Scout Observer in a reconnaissance unit, Company “F”, 425th INF (RANGER/AIRBORNE), Long Range Surveillance Unit (LRSU). Demerly is an experienced parachutist, holds advanced SCUBA certifications, has climbed the highest mountains on three continents and visited all seven continents and has flown several types of light aircraft.


  1. A “general aviation capacity” with a tug big enough to tow/push a triple 7? It is a “diversion airport” for aircraft on polar routes, according to Wikipedia. 8600′ runway, not too shabby.

  2. The choice is simple… It was there or Yellowknife… And there’s a lot of impassible Tundra and arctic ocean along the way…. Forget about flying over Hudson’s Bay on 1 engine in February to get to Toronto/Ottawa/Montreal or Gander, NFLD… That’s just recklessness with human lives.

    .. Besides that.. Did anyone check the weather beyond Nunavut? No mention above (despite being an obvious mention).

    The distance beyond Nunavut is roadless uninhabited frozen wasteland were the rescue of 500+ people from the freezing arctic is impossible. For thousands of Kilometres in every direction.

    At least they landed in a settlement where all are welcome into the people’s homes (actually, when travelling in the arctic staying in a home is common)… And in proximity for repair by a peer airline or company specialists with the support of the Canadian Forces if required.

  3. Passenger handling capacity differs from landing capacity. Here’s the giant Airbus A380 and other aircraft using Iqualuit for cold weather testing.

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