CONTINENTAL TO RESUME YAP FLIGHT SERVICES

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By Tanya M.C. Mendiola

YAP, Federated States of Micronesia (April 5, 2000 - Pacific Daily News)---Continental Micronesia will resume its regular flight services to Yap tomorrow after one of the airline’s planes was stranded on the runway after its left landing gear gave out Sunday, preventing flights from arriving or departing the island, said Walter Dias, Continental sales and marketing staff vice president. There is an extra flight planned for today to accommodate customers, he added.

"We are planning to go back on regular schedule by Wednesday," he said. "There will be an extra flight going there (today around noon) to accommodate passengers to come to Guam or Palau, (or return) to Yap," he said.

On Sunday, Continental flight 951 -- carrying 96 passengers and seven crewmembers -- was moving down the Yap airport runway shortly after 10 a.m. when the plane’s left landing gear broke off, causing the plane to tilt on its left side. No passengers were hurt during the incident, according to Pacific Daily News files.

What caused the gear to collapse is still under investigation, Dias said. He said Continental team was at the airport yesterday assessing damage and removing the plane from the tarmac.

"It wasn’t pilot error (because) it was already on the tarmac. We can’t speculate on what the cause of the collapse was."

Continental Micronesia has been in close contact with the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board on the matter, he said.

Sunday’s incident is not being considered a crash because the plane had already touched ground when the landing gear broke, Dias said.

"This one wasn’t a crash," he said. "There was an incident or accident (involving a Continental plane) back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s in Yap." Dias was referring to the crash of an Air Micronesia 727 jet on November 22, 1980, during which a landing gear collapsed, and the plane burst into flames as it skidded off the runway, causing injuries to several people but no fatalities.

Continental Micronesia is the only commercial airline providing service to Yap, Dias said. Some of the passengers aboard flight 951 were bound for Yap and 23 others were stopping on the island on their way to Palau and abroad, Dias said. The airline paid for the passengers to stay at local hotels and will also pay any cost differences associated with changes in passenger flight itineraries, he added.

 

PLANE’S GEAR COLLAPSES – NO INJURIES AFTER 727 SKIDS ON RUNWAY IN YAP

By Tanya M.C. Mendiola and Brenda Sommer

YAP, FSM (April 5, 2000 – Pacific Daily News)---Commercial air travel to and from the island of Yap is at a standstill after a Continental jet bound from Guam blew its landing gear after a smooth landing and skidded to a stop on the runway, causing no injuries, officials said yesterday.

Walter Dias, staff vice president of sales and marketing for Continental Micronesia, said flight 951, carrying 96 passengers and seven crew, was arriving in Yap from Guam at 10:15 a.m. yesterday when the left side of the aircraft’s landing gear collapsed and caused the plane to tilt.

"Upon landing, the aircraft was rolling to a stop and within the roll, suffered partial landing gear failure; the left landing gear collapsed," he said. "It came to a stop and we had an orderly exit from the plane using the slides, since the airplane was at an angle." Continental officials will be flying to Yap today to assess damage to the plane, and more information regarding the incident will be available at 3:00 p.m. today, Dias said.

"It was relatively smooth, until all of a sudden we crashed," passenger Oswald Roberts, 82, of Monrovia, California; said last night from his hotel in Yap. Roberts was traveling from Guam with his wife, Ruth, for a three-day stay on Yap en route to Palau, he said by telephone.

Bill Acker, owner of the Manta Ray Bay hotel and chairman of the Federated States of Micronesia Visitors Bureau, said last night that the Continental Micronesia 727 is now blocking the only runway at Yap’s airport, and that only small planes were able to use the airport at this time. May Luke, of the Yap airport, said that the 727 is blocking 2,000 feet of the 6,000-foot long runway.

Acker said Yap airport officials yesterday were awaiting the arrival of Continental Micronesia officials. He said passengers from the flight, which stops on Yap before continuing to Palau, and visitors who are stuck on island, have packed island hotels.

"Everybody’s full," he said. "There’s people trying to charter small planes," to leave the island.

Roberts, who is staying put on Yap for the next few days, said the plane was moving along the runway at about 60 miles per hour after touching down, when he suddenly hear a loud noise.

"We were landing. Everything seemed normal. (Then the) landing gear collapsed and we veered off to the left," he said. "Of course, there was quite a lot of noise, but it was not that bad. As far as we know, the left landing gear collapsed.

There were fire department rescue personnel at the scene when the plane came to a complete stop on the tarmac, Roberts said. No one was injured on the flight except for one man who broke his arm after he fell off the emergency chute connected to the plane’s door, which allows passengers to slide to the ground, Roberts said.

"There was not any particular damage or injury to the passengers of the plane," Roberts said. "There was no fire, no injuries, no damage. There was no nothing."

 

INVESTIGATION BEGINS IN YAP MISHAP

YAP, FSM (April 4, 2000 – Pacific Daily News)---Continental Micronesia officials said that although it’s too early to speculate on what caused the landing gear on a 727 to collapse after landing in Yap Sunday, they are certain pilot error was not a factor in the accident. No one was hurt when the flight, which originated on Guam, tipped to one side and skidded to a halt, shutting down the island’s only runway.

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