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Thursday’s airplane incident not generally considered an “emergency” FAA says

The damaged Twin Commando aircraft. [Photo: supplied / Danika Adam via RNZI]
Gives pilots discretion to call in this type of incident as an emergency or not…

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating an incident involving a Talofa Airways aircraft last week at Pago Pago International Airport, for which Sen. Magalei Logovi’i has voiced concerns over the slow emergency response from the airport’s rescue crew.

Responding to Samoa News inquiries, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said the incident is not considered an emergency by the FAA.

He explained that the Talofa Airways plane landed without incident around 8:30 a.m. Thursday (Jan. 11th) on Runway 5.

“While the Twin Commander aircraft was taxiing, the main landing gear collapsed,” Gregor said last Friday morning from Los Angeles. He said there were eight passengers on board and nobody was injured.

Gregor also said that the airline reported the incident to the FAA, which is conducting an investigation.

Magalei, who was among the passengers on the flight, told Samoa News on Thursday afternoon that he was very concerned with the slow emergency response from the airport rescue crew, who didn’t show up until later. (See last Friday's Samoa News for details).

Samoa News asked the FAA if the incident is considered an “emergency” and does it require — under federal regulations — a pilot to contact airport officials and for the airport rescue crew to respond.

Gregor explained, “A landing-gear collapse when an aircraft is taxiing slowly would not generally be an emergency.”

He added that it is up to the pilot to declare an emergency. “A pilot is theoretically free to declare an emergency concerning any event at his or her discretion.”

The FAA official further noted that “FAA regulations give pilots broad discretion in how to respond to both emergencies and to occurrences such as this.” He continued, “There is no requirement for a pilot to request an emergency response in occurrences such as this.”

During last Friday’s Senate session, Magalei voiced his concern over the slow airport emergency response and said a committee hearing is called for Thursday this week. Port Administration director Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Poumele, will be among the witnesses asked to testify.

Taimalelagi had told Samoa News last Thursday afternoon that the airport was preparing a detailed report and would be submitted to the FAA, 24hours after any incident.

She was at the Fono testifying on Manu’a issues when the incident happened.