What Went Wrong - Understanding Delta's Rough Landing - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

New Information - Delta's Rough Landing

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    RAW VIDEO - Pictures - Team Coverage

    WSAV.com is gathering interviews from witnesses and passengers of the Delta flight. Click on the video link above to view raw iphone video of interviews that are coming in to our newsroom.
    WSAV.com is gathering interviews from witnesses and passengers of the Delta flight. Click on the video link above to view raw iphone video of interviews that are coming in to our newsroom.

The official term for what took place on the tarmac last night is runway excursion.

That's when a plane overshoots the runway and ends up overrunning the pavement. It may seem like a fluke thing, but statistics and video show, this happens more than you might think.

"The pilot came in high and fast," explained Richard Ritter. "It was pretty obvious when we touched down there were some serious issues with the landing."

That was one passenger's view of what happened on the Savannah-Hilton Head Airport runway last night. He sat and watched as his plane skidded off the runway.

"He tried to turn abruptly to the left to keep it on the runway and he couldn't control it, ended up in the grass," remembered Ritter.

This isn't the first time it's happened.

Just before Christmas, a Southwest Airlines plane skidded into the mud after taking a wrong turn in the rain. None of the 129 passengers was hurt. It's a scene all too familiar to Delta Airlines. Back in 2012, maintenance workers were testing the engines on this airliner when its brakes failed and ended up on the side of a hill. And back in 2011, in a very similar case to last night, you see this plane coming back to Midway Airport in Chicago didn't make the turn, and ended up in the grass.

News 3 dug deeper into this issue. The last study from the flight safety federation shows that plane excursion accidents have remained steady.

40 in 2010.

62 in 2009.

53 in 2008.

In the past, the federation tells News 3 it has distributed training materials and urged airlines to warn pilots about the dangers of approaching runways with excessive speeds or steep descents.

Investigators there also determined the majority of these accidents happened as a result of pilot error or conditions on the runway.

Breaking it down further: 56% of all in flight accidents are blamed on the flight crews.

36% of any accidents occur during approach and landing.

This is the very long list of accidents News 3 found for the DC 9, the same type of plane flying Tuesday night. That dates all the way back to 1950. Of these, only 5 were planes running off or coming up short on the runway. While the FAA is still investigating the accident, weather doesn't appear to be a factor. According to News 3 Chief Meteorologist Kris Allred, the fog that you saw in much of this video didn't roll in until after the plane had landed.

As for moisture on the runway, the airport only saw .04 of an inch of rain last night. The plane was investigated thoroughly last night and is now on its way back to Atlanta, this time without any passengers aboard.

Background Article:

Delta authorities have been tight-lipped about the incident, releasing only this statement a few hours after the landing:

"Flight 2307, a DC-9 inbound from Atlanta, landed in Savannah, GA at approximately 6:49 PM ET. As the aircraft turned onto the taxiway, the nose wheel of the aircraft made contact with the grass. No injuries were reported and all 125 customers and crew members deplaned safely on the tarmac and were bussed to the terminal. Delta apologizes for the inconvenience this has caused."

To several passengers on the plane, it was much more than a quick 'contact with the grass'. At least one passenger, an experienced flier, says several travelers lunged forward upon impact as 'the seatbelt cut into my stomach'. Others describe the landing to WSAV.com as a fast, clumsy abrupt stop.  All passengers escaped without injury, officials say.

We're told the NTSB is not investigating the accident.

Late Wednesday, Delta released this revised statement to WSAV: "The aircraft was examined by a team of Delta technicians and is now repositioning back to Atlanta. We are also following up with each customer today to offer an additional apology for the inconvenience."

View raw interviews with passengers from the video links on this page.

In exclusive video, released to WSAV.com moments after the landing, you can hear the flight crew calming passengers and providing emergency disembarking procedures. This, as emergency vehicles begin to surround the aircraft. 

For hours Tuesday night, the DC-9 sat on Savannah's runway, blanketed with fog. Airport officials told WSAV.com that a preliminary investigation did take place while the plane sat at the end of the runway. Specific details have not been released.

Television station WXYZ reports Delta having a similar situation in 2012, as a flight with 160 passengers slid off the end of the runway a metro Detroit airport.

Delta Air Lines, based in Atlanta, and its subsidiaries operate over 5,000 flights every day with approximately 75,000 employees. The airline's hub is Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, according to airline information.

Amidst all of the turmoil, no flights were delayed, and routine airport traffic was not affected. Baggage was returned to waiting passengers within 2 hours of the rough landing.

WSAV.com has multiple crews working on this story. Check back for further updates.


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