Your Montana Public Radio
Mon June 30, 2014
Emergency Slide Deploys Inside U.S. Jetliner, Forcing A Landing
A United Airlines flight was disrupted last night after an inflatable emergency slide deployed, popping open in the aircraft's cabin. While the jet's emergency's door remained closed, pilots of the Boeing 737 quickly made an emergency landing in Wichita, Kansas.
The flight's passengers included former University of Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez, who tweeted his view from inside the cabin, along with the message, "Thankful to be safe."
The plane had been heading from Chicago to Southern California; instead, the incident aboard Flight 1463 forced startled passengers to spend Sunday night in Wichita. No injuries have been reported in the unusual episode.
"Holy smokes!" said ground crew personnel after seeing the slide deployed inside the plane, according to passenger Sara Schroeder, who was one of several people aboard the plane to document the odd ordeal on Twitter.
Passenger Susan Finkbeiner tells local TV KAKE News that the pilot told her "he had to descend right away, because there was a chance that the rest [of the ramp] could even like, push the door open. So it was like, definitely a rush."
Early reports indicated that the slide, which opened in the rear of the plane's cabin, was deployed by a passenger. But that account, which cited 911 dispatchers, hasn't been confirmed, and the slide's inflation is being called an accident.
Passengers said they heard a pop before the slide deployed, reports ABC News.
"It was interesting. Nobody was scared or anything," passenger Michael Davis tells ABC. "The captain made an announcement that we're gonna land in Wichita. "He said, 'Don't worry about the emergency trucks, it's just standard procedure.'"
United has released this statement:
"The flight diverted to Wichita, Kansas, after the emergency evacuation slide accidentally deployed. No one was injured and the flight landed safely. We are flying in another aircraft to resume the flight and get our customers to their final destination as quickly as possible."
Similar incidents have occurred in recent years: aboard an Obama campaign jet during the 2008 presidential race, and last November, a slide burst into the front galley of a JetBlue plane, injuring a flight attendant.
The United airliner's flight path on tracking website FlightAware shows that the plane doubled back to the Kansas airport to make its unscheduled landing. The flight's passengers are scheduled to leave Wichita at 9:15 a.m. today.