Passenger films 737 in frightening aborted landing

The right wing was damaged. And the passengers lived to tell the tale. The airline, however, blames fog and sun for turning everything white. Which certainly doesn't seem to be the case in the film.

Claudio Ahumada/Twitter Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Some things don't entirely make sense.

Why did a passenger film a plane's landing on what may have been his or her smartphone, when passengers are supposed to have all their gadgets turned off? Well, because people do such things, I suppose.

And why would an airline claim that the very same aborted landing was caused by a mixture of fog and sun turning everything white for the pilot, when the video doesn't seem to show that at all?

I have no answer to that one, but I can, at least present some evidence.

The flight was a Sky Airlines 737-200 landing at La Serena airport, about 290 miles north of Santiago, Chile.

I know this because Gizmodo pointed me to coverage of the events on Chile's EMOL.

The footage, posted to YouTube by someone with the handle MegaPelao, offers evidence of what seems like a reasonably clear day.

If you glide to around the 2:20 mark in the footage, you'll see the lurch to the right and the impact with the runway.

EMOL quotes Jurgen Paulmann, Sky Airlines general manager, as saying that fog suddenly descended. "All the pilot could do was go by the inside (of the runway) because the fog was coming from the other side," said Paulmann.

He continued: "In order to land, he had to perform a 'go around' and that was when suddenly there was fog which combined with the sun and made everything go white."

We have all experienced instances when everything went white. However, what's interesting about the EMOL article is that it begins by explaining that the airline doesn't intend to pay anyone compensation when there is a natural occurrence.

What's clear is that the right wing of the plane was damaged on impact, as an image posted to Twitter by Claudio Ahumada shows.

So one can only imagine what the passenger filming the landing must have felt, as the right wing was on the passenger's side of the plane.

Interestingly, Que.es reports that Sky Airlines is now being investigated by Chile's Civil Aviation Authority, after four "mishaps" in the last week.

Sky Airlines has been in business since 2002, with about 20 percent of the Chilean market.

The flight filmed here landed safely, despite the damaged wing, at Copiapo, about 186 miles further north.

One would imagine that the airline might call on evidence from the control tower at La Serena. However, the reported visibility at the time was 19,685 feet, and there were no reports of peculiar crosswinds.

I have contacted the company for its reaction to the YouTube video and the investigation and will update should Sky Airlines come around back to me.

One can only hope that the investigation will make some sense of the happenings, as one cannot allow for pilots landing at La Serena to believe that everything might go all white and they might damage their planes.

What a relief, though, that no one seems to have blamed the person filming the landing for having his or her video camera on.

 

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