A First Air flight to Edmonton was evacuated on the tarmac in Yellowknife as crew members reported a smell of smoke on board.
The cause of the incident, affecting Thursday's 5pm departure – flight 892, operated by an ATR42 turboprop – was not immediately clear. First Air said it was still investigating "a mechanical issue."
In a recording of communications between flight 892 and Yellowknife air traffic control, a pilot can be heard saying: "We're shutting down here ... smoke in the cockpit."
Nobody was reported to have been harmed in the incident.
Two passengers reported the evacuation to Cabin Radio, describing people calmly disembarking after a warning message sounded on the cabin address system as the aircraft prepared to take off.
"The propeller stopped, the interior lights went out, and over the speaker we heard 'deplane, deplane, deplane, deplane,'" passenger Mindy Frost-Greene – a Yellowknife resident – described on Facebook.
Frost-Greene, who said she could smell fuel and smoke inside the aircraft, told Cabin Radio: "It was quite calm, we all just got up and got off."
Passengers were boarding a replacement aircraft by 6:30pm. Frost-Greene told Cabin Radio passengers exchanged cries of "round two!" and "let's try this again" as boarding of the replacement aircraft began.
"We are still investigating the mechanical issue," First Air spokesperson Dan Valin wrote. "This occurred on flight 892 before takeoff, passengers were deplaned as a precaution, no emergencies had been declared, and passengers are being transferred to another aircraft."