QCOSTARICA – “Mayday, mayday, mayday, we have problems with the left hydraulic system. We have two souls on board. We have two and half hours of fuel. We are going to prepare our aircraft to be able to make an emergency landing,” said the pilot of the DHL cargo plane following its take off from the Juan Santamaria (San Jose) airport this Thursday morning.
Once back on the ground, the Boeing 757-200 skidded off the runway, its tail snapped and part of its landing gear broke.
The only persons on board, the pilot and co-pilot, both Guatemalan nationals, did not suffer any serious injuries.
The emergency began around 10:00 am. The flight, loaded with packages was headed to Guatemala but was forced to return to make an emergency landing at 10:25 am.
A video of the landing shows the airplane moving along the runway and during braking maneuvers, the aircraft makes a 180° turn and runs of the runway, into the grass. During breaking a lot of smoke could be seen coming off the landing train caused by the tire rubber and leaked hydraulic fluid.
“When the aircraft touches down, initially the landing appears normal, but then the aircraft slides to the south side of the runway, spinning and part of its fuselage breaking off. Our units immediately mobilized, placed ladders to remove the pilot and co-pilot from the aircraft, who had some minor blows, but were in good condition,” said Héctor Chaves, director of the Fire Department.
Chaves added that units from Alajuela, Heredia and San Jose provided support to the airport unit.
Luis Miranda, deputy director of Civil Aviation, explained that the plane took off from Costa Rica and was headed for La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City. The problems were reported 56 kilometers north of the Juan Santamaría airport, at an altitude of 19,000 feet, when the pilot announced the emergency.
According to historical records, this Boeing 757-200, with Panamanian registration HP-2010DAE, had been in operation for more than 22 years. Since December 1999 it operated for Far Eastern Air Transport, flying the Taiwanese flag. In 2010 it became Aerolease and in November of that same year, it became DHL Aero Expreso.
Given the damage sustained, the airplane is damaged beyond repair.
Total impact on the airport operations
The emergency declared shortly before noon affected totally airport operations. All flights out of the San Jose airport were grounded, and incoming flights, mostly from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and Europe, were diverted to Liberia, in the province of Guanacaste.
Due to international aeronautical regulations, flights cannot be restored until minimum security conditions are guaranteed on the runway. In this case, the 757 was crossed just outside the fire station, which would affect the attention of a possible new emergency.
The airport manager, Aerism assures that it took the corresponding measures to provide assistance to passengers with delayed flights; However, chaos proliferated in the terminal.
Despite the preliminary indication that the airport would resume full operations by 3:30 pm, at the time of this report (4:25 pm), outgoing flights continued delayed and many canceled.
As to incoming flights, only the Iberia flight from Madrid, Spain, was able to land at 3:43 pm, while all incoming flights up to 7:00 pm show delayed or canceled.
Aeris reports it is expecting to reopen the airport by 6:00 pm.