Following Tuesday’s aviation incident involving a Western Air plane at the Grand Bahama International Airport, airline officials say, “there was no crash per se.”
On February 7 shortly after 5:00 p.m. a Western Air aircraft carrying over 30 passengers, including flight crew experienced difficulty, en route to the capital.
After the flight landed and skidded off the runway into nearby bushes, passengers were able to disembark safely, some complaining of minor injuries.
Yesterday, this daily spoke with Sherrexcia Rolle, Vice President Operations and General Council, for an update on the incidents and passengers.
“The majority of the passengers opted to fly out that night; they just wanted to get to their destinations, which we understood. We accommodated the majority of them on BahamasAir and Sky Bahamas,” rolle revealed.
“There were a few passengers, who I understand, were in the hospital for generally minor injuries and are being monitored, but we are in contact with them. Everyone else was able to come in and get their bags, or their bags were sent to them. We are, just now, being cooperative with the investigators and the authorities,” she added.
As news circulated about the incident, on Tuesday afternoon, The Freeport News’ team arrived at the Western Air terminal and had the opportunity to speak with a few passengers that were on the aircraft when it experienced a malfunction.
While some of the passengers recalled the plane “skidding” off of the runway, others stated that the plane “crashed.”
However, Rolle informed this daily on Wednesday that while there was an incident that occurred with the aircraft, there was no crash.
“After discussing with the airport operations and individuals, those who saw it, there wasn’t a crash, per se. I feel that is was a bit misleading to say that the aircraft crashed, because the aircraft landed and went all the way down the runway.
“It was actually turning off, to go onto the taxiway when the left gear malfunctioned causing them to hard brake and swerve off of the runway, as opposed to saying that it was an actual crash.”
Additionally, shortly after 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday night, Western Air released a statement on their Facebook page in regard to the incident.
Following is the statement in its entirety.
“Statement on Flight 708- Feb 7, 2017: We are aware of the questions pertaining to the incident at GBIA with Flight 708 departing for Nassau. While we continue to gain full clarity on the situation, we wanted to ensure the public is made aware of the general facts as we receive them. Shortly after take off, the Captain noticed an indication pertaining to one of the electrical systems, he communicated with air traffic control (ATC) and followed protocol to return the aircraft back to the airport as a precaution.
The aircraft made a normal landing with both landing gears in place; however, once the aircraft proceeded down the runway and was preparing to turn onto the taxiway, the left gear malfunctioned, causing the aircraft to swerve off the runway. All passengers and crew were evacuated off the aircraft safely. Despite news reports, Western Air did not have a crash landing.
Western Air conducts an average of 20 flights a day, 365 days a year for over 16 years, with an experienced maintenance team that works tirelessly every day maintaining the aircrafts and ensuring regulatory compliance. Despite our strict dedication to maintenance, we are reminded these are man- made machinery and some things are beyond control.
We are grateful for the crew who followed manufacturer’s procedures professionally to ensure the safety of the passengers and we are grateful to the passengers for their grace and understanding. Our passengers are our top priority and we will continue to ensure they are accommodated per their individual needs. We remain committed to providing safe, reliable air service. Thank you.”
Published Thursday, February 9, 2017