Passengers disembarking the aircraft that had to make an emergency landing. Photo by Walter Hellebrand.
AIRPORT--A Windward Islands Airways International Winair flight travelling from St. Maarten to Curaçao had to make an emergency landing at Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) on Tuesday morning due to mechanical issues in mid-air.
Around 9:00am Tuesday, Winair flight WM 806 took-off from PJIA destined for Curaçao. Approximately 10 minutes in the flight, the left engine shut down, obliging the aircraft to return to PJIA with one engine running, said Winair in a press release on Tuesday afternoon. The aircraft landed safely shortly afterward.
St. Eustatius Monuments Foundation Director and local historian Walter Hellebrand was on board the flight. He said that right after take-off he observed that something was not quite right. He said that he was sitting in the row next to the propellers, so he was able to see the propeller slow down and then stop altogether. The aircraft then began to fly lower.
“It was weird to be in a plane in the air and see the propeller coming to a complete stop while the plane was losing altitude. But everyone is okay,” said Hellebrand.
“Safety protocol and procedures of Princess Juliana International Airport and Winair were followed. A maintenance team will be dispatched from Guadeloupe to trouble shoot and repair the engine,” said Winair in the press release.
The affected aircraft was one of Winair’s ATR 42s, which are wet-leased from Guadeloupe-based airline Air Antilles.
“The ATR 42 in question are robust regional turboprop aircraft with an ETOPS (Extended-range Twin-engine Performance Standards) certification, which both the ATR 42-600 and ATR 72-600 versions where granted by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). This means they are capable to fly on one engine for 120 flight minutes from any airport at which they can land,” said Winair.
All passengers of the affected flight were rebooked and were expected to arrive Curaçao “with an approximate 4-hour delay,” said Winair, adding that its ATR flight schedule for Tuesday was affected and delays can “be expected on all flights.”
“Our apologies for any inconvenience this may cause. Winair expects to return to [the – Ed.] published operating schedule on Wednesday, January 29,” concluded the airline.