A plane slid off the runway on Monday morning at Chicago O’Hare International Airport amid hazardous weather conditions. No passengers were injured during the scare.
“After landing, American Eagle flight 4125, operated by Envoy Air, slid off the runway due to icy conditions at Chicago O’Hare,” American Airlines spokeswoman Sarah Jantz told USA TODAY in a statement. “No injuries were reported. All 38 passengers and three crew members were deplaned from the aircraft and are now safely back in the terminal.”
Twitter users circulated footage of the incident, which shows the plane skidding into the median and its right wing tip scraping the snow-covered ground. Once it came to a stop, a woman can be heard saying, “I think we landed!”
Passengers were removed from the plane, which came from Greensboro, North Carolina, and transported via bus to an airport gate, according to Karen Pride, the director of media relations for the Chicago Department of Aviation.
Pride added that the incident “had a moderate impact in overall flight operations at the airport.”
Another video shows a first responder speaking to passengers onboard the plane. In the clip, he tells them that ambulances are available for anyone who needs one and advises them not to take their belongings with them when leaving the plane and that their belongings will be brought to them.
Photos also showed what passengers saw as they disembarked.
Passenger Shaun Steele told ABC7 Chicago that the plane was actually on its second landing attempt when the skid occurred: “The first one, we went back up after we noticed conditions were bad. We made a loop for about 20 minutes… As soon as we landed, we could start feeling something a little off there and we tried to do a little turn and that’s when we started going sideways.”
FlightAware data confirms Flight 4125 got as low as 625 feet before picking up altitude and climbing back up to 5,000 feet as the plane circled back for another try. It spent nearly an hour and 15 minutes taxiing due to the skid.
By 2:30 p.m. CST, the backlog of canceled flights in and out of O’Hare had increased to nearly 875 and the delays numbered more than 850, per FlightAware.
In very inclement weather with slick taxiways, the chances of a plan sliding off the paved surfaces increases, USA TODAY aviation expert John Cox explains.
“It can be safe to operate the aircraft based on previous reports but flight crews may still find that the taxiway is slicker than anticipated due to changing conditions,” he notes. “Pilots taxi very carefully when conditions exist where sliding is possible.”
He adds, “Runway conditions can change quickly, requiring judgment and experience by the pilot to determine whether it is safe to proceed. This system has worked very well for many decades to ensure the safety of landing aircraft.”
And while snowplows and de-icing equipment are helpful, they’re not silver bullets.
“Ground crews do a wonderful job of clearing snow and ice from the surfaces, but there are limits to what they can do,” Cox says.
Contributing: John Cox