Twenty-five people on board the Air Canada A320 were injured in the hard landing after the jet hit an array antenna on the ground. Considering the considerable damage to the plane, it was fortunate that no one was seriously hurt, officials said.
"They touched down 1,100 feet before the runway," Michael Cunningham of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada said. "I'd say they are pretty lucky."
The landing gear came off after the plane hit the runway, according to Cunningham, and the plane then skidded another 1,100 feet on its belly before it came to a stop. The passengers were then evacuated, Cunningham said.
"Didn't hesitate -- just jumped out onto the wing, we started running away from the plane," passenger Dominic Stettler said.
The underside of the plane suffered significant damage, Cunningham said. The nose cone broke off and one of the plane's two engines detached.
"I was really scared," Leon Yu said. "We slid down a thing, and we saw the engine a couple hundred feet from the plane."
Of the 25 passengers and crew members who were hospitalized, all but one had been released as of Sunday afternoon, according to Air Canada.
The TSB will have about 12 to 15 investigators at the scene on Monday.
"It's too early to draw any conclusions about this occurrence," Cunningham said this afternoon.
The black boxes have been recovered and are heading to Ottawa to be analyzed, Cunningham said.
Halifax Stanfield International Airport spokesman Peter Spurway said the pilots were in control of the plane up until the hard landing.
Spurway said there was snow on the runway but it hadn't yet been determined whether that was a factor in the hard landing. The airport also suffered a power interruption around the same time of the incident, but it was unclear whether the two events were related.
The pilots are 15-year veterans of Air Canada, Goersch added, with "many years" of experience flying the A320.
Goersch said that the plane was checked Saturday, which was its most recent scheduled maintenance check.
The airport was closed to all air traffic for several hours after the crash before reopening.