Thursday, April 05, 2012

Plane lands safely after mechanical problem develops

Forty-eight passengers en route from Lansing, Mich., to Minneapolis made an unexpected stop Thursday afternoon at Eau Claire’s Chippewa Valley Regional Airport after their plane developed a mechanical problem. No one was hurt.

Initial reports indicated one of the reverse thrusters had locked up, meaning the plane could have had difficulties slowing after landing. Firefighters were called to the airport to prepare for the possibility of a crash.

The Pinnacle Airlines passenger jet made a smooth landing at the airport at about 3:30 p.m..

“The landing went very well,” airport manager Charity Speich said.

The passengers exited the jet but remained in the secure area of the airport for a couple of hours while mechanics worked on the plane. Most of the passengers seemed to be make the best of their confinement by working on laptop computers, talking on cellphones or reading. It was unclear at first whether the passengers would be bused to the Twin Cities or if the plane could be repaired, Speich said, but they were reboarding and preparing to leave at 4:50 p.m.

The aircraft is a Bombardier CRJ200 with a capacity of 50 passengers, the same model that flies out of the Chippewa Valley Airport. That meant mechanics at nearby Heartland Aviation were familiar with the plane, Speich said.

A plane preparing to depart the airport was delayed a few minutes because of the emergency landing, Speich said, but otherwise there were no effects on regular operations

Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines is a business partner of Delta Airlines.

According its website, Pinnacle Airlines Corp. on April 1 announced it had filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. A Chapter 11 bankruptcy involves reorganization, usually of a corporation or partnership, to keep the business alive and pay creditors over time.