An Air Niugini Boeing 737 missed the runway and landed in a lagoon in Micronesia but all 47 people on board managed to survive the incident and swim to safety reports CNN.
The flight to Weno, the biggest city in the isolated Federated States of Micronesia and the main airport for the country, missed the runway and ended up landing in the lagoon that the city is built around.
Things were going smoothly for the flight and the approach seemed normal until a sudden storm broke out, bringing heavy rain with it. With the aircraft now in its final approach, there was little the pilots could do to adjust to the changing conditions which ended up seeing the plane land in the lagoon.
What isn’t clear yet is whether the rain caused the plane to overshoot the runway, running out of space and skidding into the water, or if the plane landed in the lagoon short of the runway. The carrier released a statement suggesting that it was the latter saying the plane “landed short of the runway.”
The airport in Weno is a difficult airport for landings for even very experienced pilots, with the shape of the town leaving little room for the runway which requires pilots to break hard straight after landing as journalist Ethan Klapper showed in a Twitter video.
Reports of an Air Niugini 737 overrunning the runway in Chuuk, Micronesia (TKK). That's a 6,013-foot runway, which is on the shorter side for an airport with airline service. https://t.co/DKY11XENhV I flew into this airport in July, you can see how hard the braking is on landing. pic.twitter.com/1odaL4z8gy
— Ethan Klapper (@ethanklapper) September 28, 2018
Almost immediately, local fishermen were on the scene to help the passengers and crew of the flight get out of the plane and get to safety. The fisherman arrived with a fleet of small fishing boats taking turns to get everyone on board the plane to safety.
This incident brings to mind the heroic actions of Captain Sully Sullenberger who piloted US Airways Flight 1549 into the Hudson River in 2009 helping all 155 people onboard his flight survive.
On this occasion, the hull of the plane was ripped and water started flowing into the aircraft but it somehow remained afloat long enough to get everybody off the plane through the emergency exits. Shortly after everyone onboard evacuated the plane submerged below the windows.
After getting everyone safely to land, all those onboard were taken to a hospital for precautionary examinations and no serious injuries were reported.
The crash will be difficult for Air Niugini, the national carrier of Papua New Guinea, and with the plane being one of just two Boeing 737-800s in service for the airline, schedules will no doubt be affected for a while before the carrier can receive more planes, with an order of four more Boeing 737s expected for delivery in 2020.