NTSB launch probe of Miami airport crash as survivors speak out

The team is expected to inspect the plane itself and assess its communications

Johanna Chisholm
Wednesday 22 June 2022 15:04
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Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are expected to arrive at Miami International Airport on Wednesday to begin their probe of a Red Air flight after its landing gear collapsed on the runway and caused it to crash.

NTSB is sending a team of investigators to Miami following today’s gear collapse and runway excursion of an MD-82 jetliner at Miami International Airport,” the investigative agency responsible for civil transportation accidents wrote on Tuesday night, just a few hours after the 5.40pm incident that sent RED Air Flight 203 into smoke.

The team is expected to inspect the plane itself and assess its communications, and will also be conducting interviews with the crew and pilot to begin understanding why the landing gear on airliner wasn’t working correctly.

The crash, which sent three of the 126 passengers travelling from Santo Domingo to Miami to hospital with minor injuries, is also being investigated by the Dominican Civil Aviation Institute alongside American authorities, Red Air said in a statement.

The Dominican Republic-based airline, which opened up late last year among a flurry of other discount carriers launching in the region, said in a statement that the plane “had technical difficulties after landing at the Miami International Airport (MIA)”, but has yet to offer any further information about the Tuesday incident.

“At RED Air we express our absolute solidarity with the passengers and crew of the aircraft,” the company said in the statement.

On Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours after the plane’s landing gear failed and caught fire, sending more than a hundred passengers fleeing from the smoking airliner’s cabin, one runway remained closed.

Airport officials didn’t provide an estimate for when it would reopen but said they didn’t expect it to impact any of the airport’s traffic.

Flights taking off and landing at the Miami International Airport are running on schedule

Video footage from the fiery crash was shared promptly on social media by passengers who were well enough to post about their harrowing brush with death, while news stations quickly caught the first responders rushing the runway as they went into rescue mode.

The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue tweeted Tuesday evening that their firefighters were able to contain the fire engulfing one of the wings on the McDonnell Douglas MD-82.

According to ​​CNN affiliate WSVN, when the airliner’s landing gear had failed, it began to skid across the runway and collided with several objects in its path before veering off between the taxiway and the runway. The plane managed to take out a small building in the area and a crane tower, which was later seen wrapped around the aircraft’s smoking right wing.

Terrified passengers spoke with the news outlet and described how they began thinking they were “going to die” in the harrowing moments inside the plane leading up to the abrupt crash.

“This could be my last time, and then I just went down,” said one passenger in an interview with WSVN.

Another, Paola Garcia, said: “I thought I was going to die”.

“All the windows were broken, and someone like, broke his leg and arm. Horrible”.

A 36-year-old mechanic from RED Air offered his first impressions about the crash which he described as being a “hard landing”.

Hector Dejesus, employed by the airline and a former Dominican military aviation mechanic said that he first thought that there had been a pilot error in the landing.

“I suppose it was a hard landing. We do maintenance all the time. I suppose it was that,” he told the Miami Herald. “I’m in shock. I would see things like this in the air force.”

In addition to the NTSB, the Federal Aviation Administration is also assisting in the investigation of the plane’s failed landing gears.

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