GICC CP: San Jose: SW Jet Makes Emergency Landing After Engine Blows/Update on SW 737 Accident in : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

Scary day for Southwest: jet blows engine, another skids off runway


Mercury News Staff Writers

Southwest Airlines had a turbulent Sunday as one of its jets was forced to make an emergency landing at San Jose International Airport and another skidded off a runway at Burbank Airport, crashing into a car and narrowly missing a gas station.

There were no major injuries, but the two unrelated incidents made the skies over San Jose and Burbank decidedly bumpy for many Southwest passengers.

Twenty minutes after takeoff, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 jet bound for Burbank on Sunday morning was forced to return to San Jose International Airport, where it made a smooth emergency landing after one of its two engines became disabled, airline officials said.

William Neeley of Cupertino, who was sitting on the aisle just behind the left wing of the plane, said he saw flames shoot out from the engine's exhaust. ``The plane shook like hell.''

Then, Sunday night a Southwest flight skidded off a runway trying to land at Burbank's airport, fishtailing onto a nearby street, Hollywood Way, missing a fire hydrant but crashing into a car carrying a woman and a four-year-old, said Burbank Fire Marshall Darryl Forbes. The jet then came to a halt with its nose in a Chevron gas station, blocking traffic and leaving its 137 passengers and five crew members, evacuated on slides and emergency exits over the plane's wings, with a case of frayed nerves.

``They told us it might be a rough landing, but none of us were expecting this,'' Kevin McCoy, a passenger on the plane, which was arriving from Las Vegas, told Fox News Channel. ``We were very lucky. All of us.''

The pilot, who has more than 10 years of experience with the airline, and two passengers suffered minor injuries, said Sonja O'Neill, Southwest marketing manager for the Los Angeles area.

Southwest's troubles started early in the day in San Jose. The 51 passengers and five crew members aboard Flight 1478 were rattled about 10 a.m. by a loud boom and sudden turbulence that followed the engine failure, but suffered no injuries. Most passengers chose to take Southwest's later 11:30 a.m. flight to Burbank.

The 737 is designed to fly on one engine in emergency situations. But Sunday's experience was particularly unsettling for passengers after January's Alaska Airlines Flight 261 crash.

``I have goose bumps all over,'' said a shaken Neeley as he stepped off the plane. ``You never know if you're going to be around the next day.''

The jet took off at 9:40 a.m. and was just beginning its ascent above the clouds when a sharp blast came from the aircraft's left engine, according to passengers.

Sekeena Kimbrough, who was returning home to Los Angeles, said the turbulence woke up her 14-month-old son, Waking, who was asleep in her arms.

"Everything was going fine, and then you heard this big boom," she said as she waited to board Southwest's 11:30 a.m. flight. "After it happened, no one was talking . . . people were just in shock."

The blast was powerful but brief, passengers said, and failed to shake luggage out of the overhead compartments.

While some aboard the plane appreciated the flight crew's handling of the situation, others felt it took too long -- about five minutes -- to learn what happened.

"They apologized to us for not talking to us sooner," said Marilyn Mohr of Santa Cruz.

Immediate inspections of the plane could not determine the cause of the problem. The damaged engine was replaced Sunday afternoon and shipped to the airline's Dallas headquarters for further inspection, said Beth Harbin, a Southwest spokeswoman. The jet likely will be back in service this morning, she said.

``The pilot felt a vibration, lights came on to indicate there was a problem, and the engine shut itself down,'' Harbin said. ``A 737 is perfectly capable of flying with one engine, but as a precaution he turned the plane around.''

Meanwhile, Southwest officials released a statement late Sunday saying they were not certain why its 737 was unable to stop upon landing at Burbank's airport. At a press conference in Dallas, Southwest CEO Herb Kelleher said the jet had its last maintenance check on Thursday and ``there were no visible problems with the airplane.''

Kelleher said there was no indication that the runway was wet nor any indication of any problems at all with the plane. Southwest's fleet is made up of 312 Boeing 737 jets. Most have an average age of 8.3 years, according to the company's Web site.

At least a dozen Southwest flights were canceled after the accident, and hundreds of passengers were stranded.

``If it causes me some inconvenience and delays, that's fine,'' said Kris Campbell, a San Jose woman inconvenienced by the chaos at Burbank's airport. `I'm just grateful people were able to walk away from it.''

Added Linda Pomeranz, a San Jose woman preparing to board a flight home when she heard the crash, ``We were almost all on, then you heard people gasping and saying, `Oh my god, a plane crashed.' ''

Harbin said incidents like Sunday's at San Jose are unusual -- even though another Southwest jet from Orlando, Fla., experienced a similar problem with its engine last weekend.

Elizabeth Besch of Pasadena, who was on the San Jose flight to Burbank, tried to find the silver lining to Sunday's troubling experience as she waited to return home.

``For scary airplane stories, it was about as mild as it could've been,'' she said.

-- Carl Jenkins (, March 06, 2000

-- Crossposter (, March 06, 2000


Burbank flight: were the spoilers deployed?

Were they protesting fuel prices? Rumour has it they told the gas attendant: fill 'er up, check the oil, and do the windshields, please.

-- firefly (, March 06, 2000.

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