NAS Jacksonville scene of late night plane crash

NAS Jacksonville scene of late night plane crash
Removal operations for the downed Boeing 737 Miami Air aircraft at Naval Air Station Jacksonville began the morning of May 7. Defueling of the aircraft was completed last night. Barges are currently in place and Navy contract partners are on scene preparing the aircraft. Once safely secured on the barge, it will be transported to a secure location. (Photo courtesy NAS Jacksonville)

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating what officials are calling a “mishap” after a Boeing 737-800 chartered by Miami Air overshot the runway at Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax) on Friday, May 3 at approximately 9:40 p.m. and slid into the St. Johns River.

On board were 136 passengers en route to Jacksonville from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as well as seven crew members. No fatalities occurred, although one dog and two cats stowed in the pressurized cargo hold did not survive. One animal that traveled in the cabin was safely removed by its owner during evacuation.

Minor injuries were treated at the scene of the crash, with 22 passengers requiring additional treatment taken to area hospitals. All patients had been released by late Saturday afternoon.

Containment and absorbent booms surround a Boeing 737 aircraft in the St. Johns River after the aircraft slid off the runway at Naval Air Station Jacksonville May 3. All 143 passengers aboard the flight from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba were rescued by base fire rescue crews and JFRD. National Transportation Safety Board officials are on scene leading the investigation. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Thomas A. Higgins/Released)
Containment and absorbent booms surround a Boeing 737 aircraft in the St. Johns River after the aircraft slid off the runway at Naval Air Station Jacksonville May 3. All 143 passengers aboard the flight from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba were rescued by base fire rescue crews and JFRD. National Transportation Safety Board officials are on scene leading the investigation. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Thomas A. Higgins/Released)

Miami Air International President and CEO Kurt Kamrad sent a letter to the passengers offering each $2,500 in a goodwill gesture, while noting acceptance of the payment would not affect their rights. Additionally, as baggage was retrieved from the hold, it would be cleaned and released after being catalogued.

Accounts indicate the aircraft was operating with a 15-knot (17 mph) tailwind and an inoperable left thrust reverser when crew asked to divert to a different runway at the base. Upon touching down, the pilots were unable to prevent the plane from skidding off the runway into four to six feet of water. Other accounts note the passengers were told prior to takeoff in Cuba there were problems with the cabin’s air-conditioning.

Fuel spillage was contained with booms, which had to be repositioned on Sunday, May 5 after a late morning storm created a bit of havoc at the accident site. Approximately 1,200 gallons of jet fuel were removed by end of day May 6 and salvage operations began on May 7.

Navy contractor partner divers enter the water May 6 to provide a thorough underwater description of the condition of the Boeing 737 aircraft lying in the St. Johns River at Naval Air Station Jacksonville. The divers will help the onsite team to determine the safest way to remove the aircraft from the water. (U.S. Navy Photo by Jeffrey Hamlin/Released)
Navy contractor partner divers enter the water May 6 to provide a thorough underwater description of the condition of the Boeing 737 aircraft lying in the St. Johns River at Naval Air Station Jacksonville. The divers will help the onsite team to determine the safest way to remove the aircraft from the water. (U.S. Navy Photo by Jeffrey Hamlin/Released)

By Kate A. Hallock, Resident Community News

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