Delta 747 Makes Emergency Landing at Midway Atoll

Discussion in 'Delta Air Lines | SkyMiles' started by HiIslands, Jun 17, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. HiIslands
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    This news bulletin from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser:
    Delta flight from Hawaii makes emergency stop at Midway

    By Star-Advertiser staff


    POSTED: 02:39 p.m. HST, Jun 17, 2011




    A Delta Airlines flight from Honolulu to Osaka, Japan, made an unscheduled stop at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge Thursday evening after pilots noticed a major crack in the cockpit windshield, officials with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said today.
    The 747 aircraft touched down safely on the refuge's Henderson Field about 5:40 p.m., with 359 passengers and 19 crew members aboard, officials said.
    The plane struck two birds as it landed, damaging the aircraft's wing flap. The crew hopes repairs will take less than 24 hours, according to the service.
    "Bird strikes are always unfortunate and sad, but we are grateful the plane landed safety and everyone is OK," refuge manager Sue Schulmeister said of the landing. "It's a good thing Midway is here when needed for these types of situations."
    Passengers were kept on board until a second 747 arrived from Japan to deliver parts and mechanics. The passengers changed planes and left for Osaka about 5:00 a.m. today, Fish & Wildlife officials said.
    Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is part of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, 1,200 miles northwest from the main Hawaiian islands. Henderson Airfield is the responsibility of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

    Article source: http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/breaking/124112669.html
     
  2. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Not everyone gets to say they landed at midway.....
     
  3. thrashsoundly
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    The delay is a pain, but you can't beat the location for a stopover!
     
  4. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Too bad they weren't allowed to deplane. Must be for immigration purposes for Japanese nationals. A bit of irony though if you think about WWII
     
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  5. secretsea18
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    Plus there is really no place for them to go...
     
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  6. NYBanker
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    If you search on google maps for "Sand Island, Henderson Field, Midway" it should come up. Not a lot of options on the island it would seem.
     
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  7. NYBanker
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    I don't think that's why. This was effectively a domestic flight, HNL-mdy. There is no way to transit in HNL coming off an inbound international flight without clearing customs, so, as of departure, likely all of the pax were lawfully in the united states. (I guess there could have been some deportees or people who overstayed their visas...but no one merely transiting.) I suspect the reason is that they didn't have any place to hold the people set up.

    I also wonder if they have air stairs at mdy tall enough to reach a 747's doors. Wikipedia says mdy was one of the Boeing subsidized fields from the original etops days, so I suspect there would be a rusty old stairway there. Otherwise, they'd have to have flown one in on the other inbound 747.

    Indeed. Not unlike, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain. There has been an earthquake in japan and narita is closed. Our flight has been diverted to Hiroshima."
     
  8. NYBanker
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    Mdw - not uncommon. Mdy - pretty unique.

    If I were on this flight, I'd probably have already updated my flight memory page. ;)
     
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  9. NYBanker
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    So I started wondering more and more about Midway and what actually goes on there.

    Sue, the refuge manager quoted in the op, is apparently new. She just arrived earlier this year.

    Another guy who lives in the atoll, Pete, has a blog. Interesting read (at least if you're unexpectedly stuck overnight in a hotel out of town)...and shows perhaps why a bird strike wouldn't be too uncommon at this field.

    http://peteatmidway.blogspot.com/2011_04_01_archive.html
     
  10. Lufthansa Flyer
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    It seems like there would be quite a bit to do, if you had time and a way to get off a 747. Looks like something you might find visiting the Galapagos. Nice link to the blog!
     
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  11. Lufthansa Flyer
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    His blog is impressive. Some beautiful images. thanks for finding the link.
     
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  12. Flyer1976
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    Beautiful Pictures and glad everyone made it down allright.
     
  13. jbcarioca
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    Th Midway pages make very interesting reading. I landed there on a refueling stop in 1968 IIRC. There were few people there but lots of disused buildings. That is all I remember other then birds, birds, birds. I enjoyed Pete's blog. Thanks for posting it.
     
  14. goalie
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    goalie Gold Member

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    I did and came up with this and I wonder what the minimum take off and landing runway length is for a 747 as the runway is only 7,800 feet long....
     
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  15. NYBanker
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    Good question.

    Here are Boeing's specifications for the 747 taking off. (Landing needs less runway, and since they've just landed two there, we know that can happen I guess.) http://www.boeing.com/commercial/airports/acaps/7474sec3.pdf

    Scroll to the page numbered 66 (14th in the pdf), which lays out the runway requirements under different circumstances. They should be fine, particularly if they split the freight and baggage between the two planes.

    Wikipedia says MDY was one of the fields that Boeing subsidized in the 70's as TPAC travel first began.
     
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  16. MSPeconomist
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    TPAC first began in the 70s? That doesn't seem possible. I know someone who flew from Australia to California early in 1974 specifically and some that surely flew from Japan and NZ to the USA at least several years before then and never indicated that it was a big deal.
     
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  17. jbcarioca
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    Keep in mind that the distance is only 2500 miles to NRT, so they will be very light on fuel load. There is no problem at all for the 747, even more so because the airport is restricted to night operations only because of the birds, so they'll have cool temperatures also. The used to run very, very heavy DC-8's though there during the Vietnam era and those things loved long runways.
     
  18. mtkeller
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    Here's a more detailed article. With regard to the issue of deplaning, it says

     
  19. NYBanker
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    That's what I call service! They probably built it in less time than in takes bags to reach the baggage claim belt at LGA! ;)

    I had raised the issue of stairs in an earlier post. I'm a bit surprised that they didn't have stairs tall enough on hand. If the operations were at some point partially funded by Boeing, you'd think they would have used a tiny bit of that subsidy for a set of air stairs tall enough to reach a 747!
     
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  20. jbcarioca
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    I am confident they had stairs. Then what? i suspect they made a good decision.
     
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  21. CrankyScott
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    Yikes, that's a long time to be left on a plane - would love to hear from those who were stranded as to the on-board conditions.
     
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  22. HiIslands
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    Interesing that the 747 was on Midway from Thursday until today, Monday. Another news report says that the plane left Midway bound for Osaka "to deliver luggage for the passengers."

    Delta airliner leaves Midway following repairs

    By Star-Advertiser Staff

    POSTED: 10:24 a.m. HST, Jun 20, 2011

    A Delta Air Lines 747 that made an emergency landing on Midway Atoll Thursday flew off the island early this morning after it was repaired.
    A spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Delta flew mechnics and parts to Midway Sunday and the plane left safely at 3:15 a.m.
    Pilots noticed a major crack in the cockpit windshield during a flight from Honolulu to Osaka.
    The 747 aircraft landed safely at Midway’s Henderson Field at about 5:40 p.m. Thursday with 359 passengers and 19 crew members aboard, said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the airfield.
    A replacement 747 arrived from Japan and flew the passengers to Japan at about 5 a.m. Friday, officials said. The takeoff took place before daybreak, when albatross and other birds there begin to fly.
    However, Thursday's landing took place when it was light and birds were active. The airliner hit two birds, one of which damaged a wing flap on the airliner.

    Article Source: http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/breaking/124209903.html
     
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  23. CrankyScott
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    18 June I was scheduled for NRT-MNL on a 747, the flight was cancelled. My guess is that plane was the rescue flight.
     
  24. NYBanker
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    from KITV.com...

    HONOLULU -- A Delta Airlines 747 jet flying from Honolulu to Osaka, Japan, on Thursday had to make an emergency landing at Midway Atoll because of a crack in the cockpit windshield, U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials said.

    The pilots landed at Henderson Field about 5:40 p.m. after finding a "major crack" on the windshield, the airline said. The plane hit two birds as it landed, damaging one of the jet's wing flaps, USFW officials said.

    "We don't usually land planes during the daylight hours when we have nesting albatross on the ground because of bird strike hazards. But we didn't have a choice in this case because they needed to land because of their cracked windshield," said Sue Schulmeister, Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge manager.

    The Delta crew kept the passengers on board the jet for about seven and a half hours, while the airline flew a replacement jet in from Narita.

    "They had lots of amenities for them. They had an air conditioned space. They had plenty of food and water, having just left Honolulu. They had entertainment, they could watch DVDs," Schulmeister said.

    John Klavitter, the refuge's deputy manager, boarded the plane to give the Japan-bound passengers a half-hour briefing about the island while they waited.

    "I just wanted to let them know where they were and little bit about Midway," Klavitter said. "I felt like if I were in their shoes, it would be helpful to know where I just landed. And maybe it would help to relieve some of the anxiety. And they seemed to be pretty receptive." [NYBanker: Nice!]

    A second 747 was sent to the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge to pick up the 359 passengers and 19 crew. The flight headed on to Japan about 5 a.m. Friday.

    "It's a good thing Midway is here when needed for these types of situations," Schulmeister said.

    When the replacement jet arrived about eight hours after the first jet landed, the passengers boarded the new plane, using a wooden extension built that night by the refuge's carpenter, because the only set of plane-boarding stairs wasn't tall enough to reach the 747, Schulmeister said.

    The crew hoped to complete repairs in 24 hours, wildlife officials said.

    About 60 people live on the atoll, maintaining the airport and monitoring the refuge, which is populated by about 1 million birds.

    Airlines rely on Midway as an emergency stopping point and the airfield there gets major funding and support from the Federal Aviation Administration, so it's available for incidents like this one.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said portions of the seawall that protects the runway were severely damaged by storms and the tsunami earlier this year, and the wall needs tens of millions of dollars worth of repairs.


    http://www.kitv.com/news/28277670/detail.html
     
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  25. NYBanker
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