Plane with smoking engine returns safely

Columbia airport incident did not cause any injuries to the 21 passengers.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:13 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Trans States Airlines flight was forced to return to the runway minutes after takeoff from Columbia Regional Airport on Monday morning after a low-oil-pressure warning light activated.

The 21 passengers aboard flight 5505 to St. Louis deplaned safely after the landing and there were no injuries, Trans States Airlines spokesman Bill Mishk said.

Bill Payton, a claims adjuster en route to Mobile, Ala., was seated in an exit row above the left engine. Payton said that he saw the engine’s propeller stop and that other passengers said they saw smoke. He said the crew assured passengers that the plane could land safely with one engine.

“I was sitting over the engine, and there was smoke coming from it,” Payton said. “Everything was smooth. Then they made the announcement that we had to get off.”

Airport manager Bill Boston saw smoke from the engine from his office window overlooking the runway. He said the pilot declared an emergency and, following standard procedures, shut down the engine.

“A response was made, there were no injuries, and no one was in danger,” Boston said.

Columbia police officer Millard Young was in the airport’s emergency-response office when the airport tower announced that the plane would land.

“The plane took off and banked left,” Young said. “They knew right away that there was a problem. After it landed, we did a visual inspection of the engine, and there was no fire.”

Some passengers had to make alternative travel arrangements, including renting a car and making a last-minute reservation aboard an airport shuttle. Others sat in the airport café, waiting for the afternoon flight.

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