INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - A flight from New Jersey to Poland ended in a scary but smooth skid without landing gear Tuesday. But the crash landing likely would’ve been handled much differently in Indianapolis, airport officials said.
The LOT Polish airlines flight was heading from Newark, N.J., to Warsaw, Poland. Landing gear problems forced the pilots to bring it down on its belly. None of the 231 passengers and crew was hurt.
Which begs the question: Why would things be handled differently in Indianapolis?
Hundreds of planes take off and land daily at the Indianapolis International Airport.
While the planes are in the air, the Beast Master, one of the Indianapolis Airport Fire Department's Aircraft Rescue Response Vehicles, is on standby ready to respond in any emergency.
Steve Summers is the deputy chief for the Indianapolis Airport Fire Deparment. He said what happened in Poland could happen anywhere. but IAFD would respond differently.
"In an aircraft emergency, we will line ourselves up on a taxiway next to a runway, so if it lands short or long, we have a truck there waiting on them," Summers said, "These trucks are specially designed. They are all-wheel-drive with flotation tires and independent suspension."
The Beast Master has 3,000 gallons of water. It also carries 420 gallons of aqueous film-forming foam.
"What the foam does is on a fuel fire, it provides a barrier between the outside air and the fuel itself so the vapors can't escape and it can't burn," Summers explained.
In Poland, they laid down the foam first. That likely wouldn't happen here.
"Normally we do not foam runways. We allow the plane to come to a stop, and then we cool the plane down with water, and if fuel is involved, then we use foam," Summers said.
He said foam could also be used to help the plane slide along.
"Runways are about 12,000 feet long. We would use all of our product on the runway and create a very slick surface, which the aircraft could easily slide off of," Summers said.
Most aircrafts land and take off into the winds. Summers said in an emergency they would try to approach the aircraft from the front, with the winds to their back so the water and foam they use would target the plane. He said also by doing that, it allows a path around all the doors to push any fire that may occur away, so the passengers could get out.