Two pilots told air traffic controllers that one engine had stopped working and that they needed help, and a few moments later on Friday, they landed a cargo plane on the surface of the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.
“This doesn’t look good,” said one of the pilots before the Boeing 737 crashed when it touched the water.
Both pilots, the only crew members, were seriously injured, but survived the crash. An hour later, rescuers found them holding on to packages and parts of the plane a few miles from Oahu, authorities said.
“One was on the tail and the other was holding on to the packages” floating on the surface of the ocean, Coast Guard Commander Karin Evelyn wrote in an email to the AP. As the Coast Guard helicopter approached, “the plane began to sink, so one pilot reached the tail that was rising. Rescuers safely lifted him into the helicopter, and the lifeguard-swimmer then helped another pilot.”
The pilots of Transer Flight 810 on the local line from Honolulu to Maui reported a problem with the engine and tried to return to Honolulu, according to a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“We lost engine number 1 and we’re coming straight to the airport,” said one of the flight control pilots. “We’re going to need firefighters. There’s a chance we’ll lose another engine, it’s overheated. Our speed is very low.”
The pilot said that they did not transport dangerous material and that they had fuel for two hours of flight. They asked the control to call the Coast Guard, and then asked if any airport was closer to them than Honolulu.
After a tense silence, the controller asked if the pilot was still there. There was no answer.
“They seem to have landed on the water,” he said.
Later, a rescuer from a Coast Guard helicopter sent to search for the pilots told air traffic control: “The plane is in the water … we are above the wreckage.”
A few minutes later, he said: “We have them, two people in sight in the water.”
The tower replied, “Okay, so you have both, both in sight?”.
“Both are in sight, yes, sir!” The rescuers replied.
The pilots, whose identities were not released, were transported to the hospital. Officials at the Queens Medical Center said the 58-year-old was in critical condition, local Hawaii News News reported. The other pilot, a 50-year-old man, was in serious condition, with a head injury and lacerations, the TV station reported.
The Coast Guard reported that it flew over the crash site near Oahu the next morning to assess the pollution. The plane and fuel are currently under water.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSA) will investigate the accident.
It is a 46-year-old “Boeing 737-200”, one of less than 60 such aircraft that still fly around the world.
The Boeing 737 first took off in the late 1960s and is the company’s most popular aircraft model still in production. Boeing has delivered more than 10,500 of them and has orders for another 4,000, almost all for the latest version, the 737 Max.
Over the years, about 200 Boeing 737s were destroyed in the crashes, and several hundred more had minor accidents and similar cases, according to the Aviation Safety Network database.
“For a jet that has been in production for so long and used so intensively, 203 accidents can be considered very good information about their safety,” said Haro Ranter, who runs the database.
“Boeing” said in a statement: “We know about the report from Honolulu in Hawaii and we are closely monitoring the situation. We are in contact with NTSA and I am collecting additional information.”
Over the years, there have been several landings on water that people have survived, and the most famous is the case of a US Airways plane landing in 2009 on the Hudson River in New York, which survived all 155 people.
In 2011, all four people in that plane survived the crash of a cargo plane into the water near the runway in Gabon.
In other similar cases, some passengers and crew survived and some were killed, including a hijacked Ethiopian Airlines plane that ran out of fuel and crashed into the Indian Ocean in 1996 and disintegrated on camera. , a Tunisian plane that landed on the water near Sicily in 2005 and an Indonesian plane that landed in the river during the 2002 storm.