Rough landing leaves debris
Officials reportedly look into crew fatigue and dense fog as possible
factors in plane's scary arrival in Charlotte. On Sunday, an American Airlines flight scraped a wingtip and partially veered off the runway while trying to land.
Federal aviation officials are investigating why an American Airlines plane
landing in heavy fog Sunday night in Charlotte veered partially off the
runway and then scraped a wingtip, as frightened passengers gasped and
The impact left parts of the wing and debris on runway 36C, but planes
continued to land for another 11 minutes until the runway was closed for
planned maintenance about 11 p.m.
Officials couldn't say whether the debris posed a danger to the other
planes. It wasn't clear how many more landed, but an airport spokesman said it was "a handful." Charlotte/Douglas International wasn't alerted to the incident until about 2:24 a.m. Monday. Airport officials said the debris was cleaned up shortly after the airport received word from the Federal Aviation Administration.
The weather, possible crew fatigue, the plane's alignment for landing as
well as its equipment are also under review, according to reporting by the
Observer and the Wall Street Journal.
None of the 110 passengers or the crew aboard American Flight 1402, inbound from Dallas, was injured in the rough landing.
"It was just shaking, just jarring," said Randall Calvert, 40, of Charlotte,
who was returning from a company Christmas party and sitting in the 15th row of the plane, near the wing.
"You know how it feels on a roller coaster when you're going on a bend and all the G-forces are going one way. Everybody in our area thought it was about to roll over."
Calvert said he couldn't see out more than 20 feet because of the fog. He
also said the plane didn't feel level as it came in for the landing.
At one point, he said, it felt like the wing hit something. "It clicked or
did something, then it flipped like the other way."
Passengers gasped, and a few shouted.
Then came sighs of relief - and applause for the captain.
The ordeal lasted less than 10 seconds, Calvert said.
Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the FAA, said airport personnel found
debris on the runway, and that the damage to the McDonnell-Douglas MD-82 aircraft "was substantial."
Bergen didn't know Tuesday night what type of debris was found, or how large it was. Airport spokesperson Haley Gentry was also unable to describe what was found.
Investigators are reviewing what, if any, role fog played in the incident.
Visibility was limited to about one-eighth of a mile at the time, and the
same fog bank caused hundreds of flight delays and some cancellations Monday in Charlotte.
"While weather certainly is something that the (investigators) will
consider," Bergen said, "aircraft are equipped to land in those conditions."
Officials are also looking at the actions of the flight crew and American
Airlines' communication process after the 10:49 p.m. incident.
Bergen said airlines are expected to promptly report incidents if an
airplane is seriously damaged or someone is killed, but there aren't set
timeframes in other circumstances.
It's common protocol, she said, to consistently sweep airport runways and to stop using runways altogether if debris is reported. "If an airplane blows a tire or if a pilot reports seeing debris ... anytime something occurs, or
there's a suspicion, we should stop using the runway and we would go out and sweep," Bergen said.
American Airlines declined comment Tuesday, saying it's awaiting a report
from the National Transportation Safety Board.
The Wall Street Journal, citing investigators and airline officials, said
the flight's crew was told by air traffic controllers on Sunday evening that
the plane was slightly off-course as it approached for a landing.
Controllers asked the crew if they wanted to make another attempt at
landing, but the crew declined, according to the Journal.
The newspaper reported that the crew then decided to shut off the autopilot shortly before landing, believing that it was not working properly.
The Journal said investigators also will look into whether crew fatigue
might have been an issue. The crew had been on duty about 14 hours before the landing, according to the report.
Rough landing leaves debris - CharlotteObserver.com