A PenAir 2000 slid off an airport runway in Alaska yesterday. The Saab 2000 was carrying 42 people when the incident happened.
CNN reports that a high school swim team was among those who were on the plane. They were traveling on flight 3296 from Anchorage to Amaknak Island. The airliner landed Unalaska-Dutch Harbor Airport but moved off the runway as it tried to halt. Subsequently, the turboprop ended up with half of its left side tilted down a bank at Unalaska-Dutch Harbor Airport.
The event happened at 5:40 pm local time, with harsh weather conditions contributing to the accident. There was light rain, which reduced visibility during the landing. There were also winds of 24 mph and strong gusts.
No reported injuries
There is no confirmation of injuries sustained by the three crew members and 39 passengers. However, the superintendent of the school that the swim team is from confirmed that his students are fine.
“All students and chaperones are accounted for and are okay,” said Cordova school superintendent Alex Russin, as reported by CNN.
“Moments ago, I spoke again with Superintendent Conwell who stated that the team was together, seemed fine, and were eating pizza. Mr. Conwell assured me repeatedly that the students would be well looked after and taken care of.”
The incident is now under investigation by a team from the National Transportation Safety Board. PenAir was operating on behalf of Alaska Airlines, which the airline partners with on flights on this Bering Sea service.
The operator serves more than 900 worldwide destinations, with around 1,200 daily flights between North American cities. Altogether, it flies 44 million passengers per year.
The small communities in towns such in islands such as Amaknak live in remote areas. Therefore, it is a struggle for large-scale jets to take off and land in these sensitive, natural environments. This is why the carrier partners with PenAir on these hard to reach destinations.
According to Planespotters, PenAir holds a fleet of 13 Swedish Saab turboprop aircraft. Six of these are Saab 2000s, which can serve up to 58 passengers. The other seven planes are the smaller Saab 340s, which are designed to serve between 30 and 36 passengers.
The carrier is Alaska’s second-largest commuter airline. It also operates charter and medical evacuation services throughout the largest state in the United States. However, despite the trusted service that PenAir provides for Alaska, the weather was too much to handle in this instance.
Harsh weather is having an impact across the US this month. This week, a Southwest aircraft collided with a jet bridge at Boston Logan International Airport thanks due to strong winds. The conditions are set to get even more serious as we head into winter, causing many airlines to put special measures in place.
Simple Flying reaches out to PenAir and Alaska Airlines regarding the incident but did not hear back before publication. We will update you with any further announcements.
What do you think of this incident at Unalaska-Dutch Harbor Airport? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.