Airport officials learn from emergency landing - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Airport officials learn from emergency landing

Iowa natives Douglas Klima and Lori Launderville Iowa natives Douglas Klima and Lori Launderville
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Officials at Southwest Georgia Regional Airport looking to make changes to their response after 155 passengers and six crew members were stuck at the airport for hours following an emergency landing Sunday night.

We now know there wasn't a fire on the Florida bound Allegiant Air flight, but accommodating such a large number of passengers proved to be a tough task.

When Allegiant Air Flight 863 from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to St. Petersburg, Florida experienced trouble in the air, the runway at Southwest Georgia Regional Airport was a sight for sore eyes.

"Everybody here has been awesome. Really awesome," said Stranded passenger Lori Launderville.

Iowa natives Lori Launderville and Douglas Klima were two of 155 passengers on board the MD80 when an emergency siren indicated a possible fire in the cargo bin. No fire was found but emergency crews were ready on the tarmac when the plane safely landed. Passengers exited on an inflatable slide.

What proved to be the biggest task though, handling all those people on board? "Most of the stuff, I would do the same," said Airport Director Yvette Aehle. 

Aehle says airport personnel responded quickly, along with the Red Cross providing drinks and food to dozens of stranded passengers and crew. But finding transportation from the runway to the terminal was the biggest issue. The future solution will likely be school or city buses.

"I have already reached out to Albany transit and we're going to put together a meeting with the emergency response folks and get that conversation happening," said Aehle.

While no injuries were reported, two passengers were treated for dehydration. Charter buses from Americus took the passengers and crew to their final destination.

 "I hope there is not a next time, but when you're in this business occasionally these things are going to happen," said Aehle.

And despite more than six hour delay, "I got out of work for a day, so it's not all bad. I guess," said stranded passenger Douglas Klima.

Most of the passengers just happy to have had a safe landing. A spokesman for Allegiant Air praised the airport and those who helped to accommodate its passengers. As for their aircraft, it will be grounded here until those inflatable slides can be re-installed.

While no evidence of a fire was found, an investigation is being conducted to find out what sounded the alarm.

 

Copyright 2013 WALB.  All rights reserved.

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