A Finnair ATR 72-500 turboprop regional airliner was forced to make an emergency landing in Riga, Latvia due to reports of smoke in the cabin, the Latvian State Fire and Rescue Service told Lithuanian media.
The incident occurred on February 17, 2022, when the Finnair ATR 72-500 turboprop aircraft, registered OH-ATI, was operating regular daily flight AY1107 between Helsinki, Finland, and Vilnius, Lithuania.
According to data from Flightradar24.com, the plane took off from Helsinki Airport (HEL) at around 11.30 a.m. (UTC) and was scheduled to land at Vilnius International Airport (VNO) an hour and a half later.
However, as the plane neared the Lithuanian border, at a flight altitude of 17,000 ft, it immediately began to descend, and the flight crew turned the aircraft towards the nearest airport to perform an emergency landing.
The pilots landed the ATR 72-500 turboprop at Riga International Airport (RIX) in Latvia at around 1.10 p.m. (UTC) due to reports of smoke in the plane cabin. A spokesperson for RIX airport Ilze Salna confirmed to media that after safely landing in Riga, 18 passengers were evacuated from the plane due to safety risks.
The airline is yet to make any announcements regarding the incident.
This is the second incident this year where smoke has caused a Finnair flight to be diverted. In early January 2022, a Finnair Airbus A350-900 jet, registered OH-LWH, was operating daily flight AY-141, connecting Helsinki and Bangkok, but the plane was forced to return to Helsinki for an emergency landing.
While the aircraft was commencing the climb from Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (HEL), smoke detector indications alerted the crew to a potential fire onboard. Meanwhile, passengers noticed suspicious steam in the cabin and shared pictures of the incident on social media. The aircraft returned to HEL and no further incidents or injuries were reported.