Airplane slides off runway at Ottawa airport
Published Wednesday, June 16, 2010 8:09PM EDT
An investigation is underway into what caused a United Express airplane arriving from Washington to skid off the runway at the Ottawa International Airport Wednesday, causing minor injuries to the plane's pilot, co-pilot and an elderly passenger.
"There is no speculation on what happened by anybody on anything. The Transportation Safety Board are the people who will examine this. They currently have three investigators at the aircraft gathering data," said Paul Benoit, president and CEO of the Ottawa International Airport Authority.
The plane overshot the runway by about 200 metres, coming to a stop about 100 feet from the airport's fence, said paramedic spokesperson J.P. Trottier.
The nose of the airplane was extensively damaged and the belly of the aircraft rested on the ground.
"The plane slid off the runway and caused the front landing gear to fail, so basically the plane's down on its nose and there's structural damage to the front part of the plane," said Marc Messier, spokesperson for Ottawa Fire Services.
There were 36 people onboard United Express flight 8050, operated by Trans States Airlines, including the pilot and crew.
Ottawa paramedics say the 48-year-old male pilot suffered minor neck injuries. His co-pilot, a 31-year-old male, was treated for a leg injury. An elderly female passenger was treated for minor neck injuries.
All three are in stable condition in hospital. No other passengers required medical attention.
The plane was evacuated minutes after the aircraft came to a stop in the grassy field surrounding the tarmac. OC Transpo buses were sent to the scene to accommodate passengers who were given blankets to warm up from the rain.
"It was like an abrupt right turn, I've heard that the brakes were not working, but I don't really know," said passenger John Hardaway.
"The gentlemen that were near the exit door, they did a good job. These two travellers, they did a good job," added passenger Donat Savoie.
A witness told CTV News Channel the aircraft appeared to hydroplane when it tried to land in the rainy weather. Although the landing looked fine at first, the airplane quickly lost traction.
"It's been raining most of the afternoon, the runway was very slick. The pilot reported, just as he was coming down towards the end, he said I'm going off the edge of the runway and he did. There was no traction at all. I'm very impressed with him," said Steph Nicholds, who is a pilot in-training and was listening to the air traffic scanner Wednesday afternoon.
Emergency crews were called to the airport at about 2:45 p.m. Wednesday. Messier said airport firefighters quickly disconnected the plane's batteries and checked for fuel leaks and other potential fire hazards after the plane was evacuated.
Trans States Airlines will conduct a full investigation into the incident and United Express said it will provide any assistance necessary.
Airport officials say the investigation could take up to six months to complete.
With files from CTV Ottawa's Catherine Lathem and Stefan Keyes