American Airlines Flight 2253 Comes To A Stop In Deep Snow
On Wednesday, an American Airlines jet passed the end of Jackson Hole's only runway. Nobody on board was injured and the plane was not damaged.
Spokesman for the Airlines Ed Martelle said Flight 2253 which was coming from Chicago "had a long rollout" on its landing at 11:37 a.m. Wednesday. "Luckily the plane came to rest on a hard surface and did not go off into grass or brush," he said. The hard surface the plane eventually came to a stop on was part of the safety apron and extra dirt provided for events such as this. Deep snow also helped bring the 757 to a safe stop. Jackson had received several inches of snow, but investigators say it may not have been the snow that made the plane go off the runway.
On board the Boeing 757 were 175 passengers, two pilots and four flight attendants. One of the passengers on board was Kevin Huelsmann, a local newspaper reporter. He told the Associated Press, "There was snow everywhere outside the windows, we couldn't see anything, but there was no big impact." Huelsmann also said, "It happened so quickly, most people didn't react until it was over." Once the plane came to a stop, the pilot told passengers that the brakes had failed.
Jackson Hole Airport Director Ray Bishop said there were no injuries and no damage to the airplane, which he said went into deep snow 658 feet past the end of the runway. That distance included a 300-foot paved safety apron and 358 feet of dirt beyond that. Light snow had been falling when the plane landed. Visibility was approximately 1.5 miles and the runway had some snowy patches. Bishop also stated, "its surface afforded good braking friction."
The airport was delayed and flights were diverted elsewhere. Officials have been trying to determine why the plane went off the runway. The National Transportation Safety Board announced it has opened an investigation into the incident. The National Weather Service stated Jackson Hole had received about 7 inches of snow since midnight on Tuesday.
Airport officials had to plow around the plane and brought stairs to the aircraft so passengers could exit. In an effort to get the plane back on the runway crews towed the airliner with bulldozers. Jackson's airport has only one runway which is a distance of 6,400 feet long. That length is shorter than normal for airports that handle commercial flights. "Another airplane went off the end of the runway last month, and such events happen periodically there, said Director Ray Bishop.
Located in the southern tip of Grand Teton National Park about 10 miles north of Jackson, Jackson Hole Airport is the only commercial airport permitted to operate inside a national park. The National Park Service announced Tuesday that it was granting the airport a 20-year lease extension. The agreement acknowledged that the number of overruns at the airport was a concern. Moving the airport out of the park would have to be among the options considered if the airport proposes expansion.
In a release on January 3rd, Federal Officials who have been investigating the incident have banned the carrier from participating in the investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board took action because they say American Airlines had a "breach of protocol."
The NTSB says the breach came when American Airlines technicians improperly downloaded flight data recorder information prior to releasing it to government investigators. It is believed that no information is missing or had been altered in any way, but the NTSB says the download violated standards.
A spokeswoman for the airlines says the airline downloaded the data "as part of its normal safety investigation" and did not try to by pass any type of collaboration with government officials.