Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Southwest flight makes emergency landing at Allegheny County Airport (KAGC), West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, during delay for Pittsburgh air show

A Southwest Airlines flight scheduled to land at Pittsburgh International Airport landed instead at the much smaller Allegheny County Airport while airspace was closed for an air show Sunday afternoon.

The flight from Orlando was supposed to touch down shortly after 4 p.m. but airspace was closed from 3:15 p.m. to 4 p.m. because of the Wings Over Pittsburgh show.

Margaret Waltz, of Monroeville, said the Southwest flight crew told passengers that the plane would have to circle until the space cleared.

"One flight attendant made the announcement that there was an air show going on, so there’s going to be a 20-minute delay and there might be a little bit of roughness because we were circling," Waltz said.

Instead, the jet landed at Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin because of concern about fuel levels.

Southwest released the following statement Monday:

"Southwest Flight 3316 operating from Orlando to Pittsburgh Sunday night safely landed at Allegheny County Airport to avoid using contingency fuel reserve. Out of an abundance of caution, the captain in command declared an emergency to receive priority handling from air traffic controllers to use the alternate airport. There were no reports of injuries. We worked to get the 143 customers to Pittsburgh on buses to catch other flights to connecting destinations."

An organizer with the 911th Airlift Wing in Moon Township said there was a system in place by which the airshow could be stopped if a flight needed to make an emergency landing, but supervisors on the ground were not notified about the Southwest situation.

Despite landing roughly 45 minutes from their intended location, many passengers said the pilot, the crew and the county airport staff did everything they could to make the situation easier, including bringing in buses to carry people across town to Pittsburgh International and buying pizzas for everyone.

Waltz said she also got vouchers in her email for another Southwest flight.

"Getting home a little bit later than normal is better than not getting there at all," Waltz said.

Story and video:  http://www.wtae.com

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