On May 3, 2019, a Boeing 737 aircraft skidded off the runway and into a river in Jacksonville, Florida, after pilots attempted to land the plane during a thunderstorm. All 143 people on the plane survived, although at least 21 received treatment at a local hospital.
The aircraft flew from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to Naval Air Station Jacksonville, where it attempted to land. Officials are investigating what caused the plane to wind up in the river.
The 737 Jet Was in Maintenance Before Crash
According to reports, the Boeing 737-800 is operated by Miami Air International. The military contracts the charter airline for regular round trip service between the US and Guantanamo Bay. The plane had 136 passengers and seven crew members on board, all of whom evacuated onto the wing of the aircraft before being rescued. Those on the plane were military personnel and military family members.
The pilot reportedly requested to change runways just before landing, and investigators are looking into that request and the possible failure of the aircraft’s thrust reverser. The pilots asked to land on a runway that had less space for landing thanks to a wire barrier, resulting in only 7,800 feet instead of 9,000 feet. In addition to asking for a change in the runway, pilots also requested a change in landing direction.
“The aircraft had been in maintenance and the maintenance log noted that the left hand thrust reverser was inoperative,” said Bruce Landsberg, vice-chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.”
The thrust reverser diverts thrust from the engine and can help an aircraft stop.
Passenger Darwing Silva told reporters that while the plane was still in Cuba passengers were told it might not be fit for flight. The plane did take off, four hours late, but passengers were warned they would not have air conditioning for the flight’s duration. According to Silva, the lack of air conditioning was the only noticeable issue on the flight, until the plane failed to stop on landing.
At Least Three Pets Died
Though all 143 humans on the plane survived, at least three pets died. The dog and two cats were in the luggage compartment and drowned when that portion of the plane wound up under water. The flight’s manifest listed four pets—the fourth was in the plane’s cabin—but officials say it is possible there were more pets that they could not account for.
Passengers Did Not Know Where They Were
Passenger Cheryl Bormann, speaking with Don Lemon from CNN, said the plane experienced a hard landing, bounced and came to a complete stop in what felt like a crash.
“We were in water,” Bormann said. “We couldn’t tell where we were, whether it was a river or an ocean. There was rain coming down. There was lightning and thunder. And we stood on that wing for a significant period of time.”
Third Boeing Crash in Less Than a Year
The Jacksonville crash is the third Boeing crash to make headlines in less than a year. Boeing was involved in the Lion Air crash in Indonesia and Ethiopian Airlines crash near Addis Ababa that killed a total of 346 people in Oct. 2018 and Mar. 2019, respectively. The plane involved in those crashes was the Boeing 737 MAX 8, not the 737-800.
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