An Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Orange County experienced a terrifying landing on Sunday night, as sparks and smoke flew from the plane’s wing and engine. The passengers on board the flight recorded the incident and shared their ordeal online.
Plane’s landing gear fails in tropical storm
The Alaska Airlines flight 1288, a Boeing 737, was landing at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California, around 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, amid heavy rain and wind caused by Tropical Storm Hilary. As the plane approached the runway, it hit the ground with a loud thud, jolting the passengers and crew. The left wing of the plane scraped the ground, sending sparks flying and smoke billowing from the engine. The plane’s landing gear also failed, leaving the aircraft tilted on one side.
Abhinav Amineni, a 16-year-old passenger who filmed the incident, told ABC7 that he was panicking when he saw the sparks outside his window. “I thought the plane was going to catch on fire,” he said. He also said that the shaking of the plane was unusual and that he had never encountered such an abrasive landing before.
Another passenger, Donna Delfin, told ABC7 that she saw the sparks when the plane came “screeching to a halt” on the runway. She said she was shocked to see that the left side of the plane was tilted up and the right side was tilted down. “I was like, ‘Oh my God. What had happened?’” she said.
No injuries reported as passengers evacuate
Fortunately, no one was injured as a result of the rough landing, and all 106 passengers and six crew members were safely evacuated from the plane by Orange County firefighters. The passengers were then bused to the terminal, where they received assistance from Alaska Airlines staff.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that the crew reported issues with the aircraft’s landing gear while taxiing to the gate. The FAA also said that it is investigating the incident.
Alaska Airlines said in a statement that the flight “experienced an issue soon after landing” and that the plane “was unable to taxi to the gate due to an issue with its landing gear.” The airline also said that the safety of its guests and employees is its primary priority and that its maintenance and safety teams are inspecting the aircraft.
John Wayne Airport has one of the shortest runways in the nation
The John Wayne Airport, where the incident occurred, is known for having one of the shortest runways in the nation, measuring only 5,700 feet long. This is much shorter than the neighboring Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), whose shortest runway is 9,000 feet long.
The short runway poses a challenge for pilots, especially in bad weather conditions. Amineni’s friend, Ahkil Arunkumar, who was also on the flight, told CBS News that he gave credit to the pilot for managing to land safely in such circumstances. “You’re landing in high winds, low visibility and with one of the shortest commercial runways – it’s a recipe for disaster,” he said.
The incident also caused some delays and diversions for other flights at John Wayne Airport on Sunday night and Monday morning. The airport advised travelers to check with their airlines for updates.