American Airlines jet goes off runway in WyomingThe Associated Press
Wednesday, December 29, 2010; 7:18 PM
JACKSON, Wyo. -- An American Airlines jet went past the end of a snowy runway while landing at Wyoming's Jackson Hole Airport on Wednesday, but no one was injured and the plane was not damaged, officials said.
Airline spokesman Ed Martelle said Flight 2253 from Chicago "had a long rollout" when it landed at 11:37 a.m. Wednesday. The plane came to rest on a hard surface and did not go off into grass or brush, he said.
There were 175 passengers, two pilots and four flight attendants on board the Boeing 757, Martelle said.
"There was snow everywhere outside the windows. We couldn't see anything. But there was no big impact," Kevin Huelsmann, a local newspaper reporter who was on the flight, told The Associated Press. "It happened so quickly, most people didn't react until it was over."
He said the pilot told passengers after the plane had come to a stop that the brakes had failed.
Ray Bishop, director of the Jackson Hole Airport, said Wednesday that there were no injuries and no damage to the airplane, which he said went into deep snow 658 feet past the end of the runway. That distance included a 300-foot paved safety apron and 358 feet of dirt beyond that.
Light snow was falling when the plane landed, with visibility at about 1.5 miles, Bishop said. The runway had some snowy patches, but its surface afforded good braking friction, he said.
Martelle said airline officials were trying to determine why the plane went off the runway.
The National Transportation Safety Board announced Wednesday it has opened an investigation into the incident.
Speaking in a conference call that began at about 1:30 p.m., Bishop said it might take an additional hour to reopen the airport and flights were being diverted elsewhere. "As you know, this is a very busy time of year for us," Bishop said. "The snow's fantastic at the ski resort."
The National Weather Service said Jackson Hole had received about 7 inches of snow since midnight.
Airport officials plowed around the plane and brought stairs to the aircraft so passengers could exit.
"It was not much different than other times I had gotten off the plane. We were just a little farther out," Huelsmann said.
Crews used bulldozers to pull the airliner back onto the runway.
The airport's only runway is 6,400 feet long, which Bishop said is a little shorter than normal for airports handling commercial flights. Another airplane went off the end of the runway last month, and such events happen periodically there, he said.
Located in the southern tip of Grand Teton National Park about 10 miles north of Jackson, Jackson Hole Airport is the only commercial airport permitted to operate inside a national park. The National Park Service announced Tuesday that it was granting the airport a 20-year lease extension.
The agreement acknowledged that the number of overruns at the airport was a concern but if the airport proposed an expansion, moving the airport out of the park would have to be among the options considered.