82.1 F
Charlotte Amalie
Monday, July 15, 2024


May 20, 2002 – The Federal Aviation Administration's warning of the dangers posed to aircraft at Henry E. Rohlsen Airport by birds from the Anguilla landfill came home to roost Monday morning when an American Eagle flight had to abort a takeoff.
Aviation sources confirmed that a bird believed to have taken off from the nearby landfill flew into a turbo-prop engine of the ATR 42 aircraft, forcing the pilot to abandon the takeoff and return to the gate. The incident occurred seconds before the plane would have become airborne.
The flight, American Eagle 5259, was to depart at 7:25 a.m. for Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas. It did not do so until shortly before noon, after two mechanics were flown over from Puerto Rico to inspect the engine for damage and to make sure no remains of the bird were left in the engine block.
Since last year, the FAA has been saying it will take action — possibly closing the St. Croix airport — if the V.I. government does not shut down the landfill by the end of this calendar year. The federal agency has cited dangers posed both by birds that feed at the landfill and by smoke from spontaneous combustion at the dump, condemned years ago by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Among the 42 passengers aboard the aborted flight Monday morning was the Port Authority executive director, Gordon Finch, who has been pushing for the government to act on closing the landfill before the FAA follows up on its threat. Finch, who commutes by air four days a week between his home on St. Croix and his VIPA office on St. Thomas, said all appeared normal in preparation for takeoff Monday until the pilot suddenly shut down the engines.
Minnette Velez, American Eagle spokeswoman in Puerto Rico, said the aircraft did not suffer any damage and that the flight departed at 11:57 a.m. She could not say what impact the delay of more than four hours had on the day's further scheduling of that particular aircraft. The plane is scheduled for multiple flights originating in San Juan, flying to St. Croix, then to St. Thomas, then back to St. Croix, then back to San Juan.

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