The Latest: Base closed to aircraft until plane removed

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on charter plane traveling from Cuba to north Florida that ended up in a river at ends of runaway (all times local):

5:30 p.m.

The commanding officer of a Florida military base where a chartered jet landed in a river says the base will be closed to arriving flights until federal investigators figure out how to remove the aircraft from the St. Johns River.

Capt. Michael Connor said Sunday that some aircraft at Naval Air Station Jacksonville will be allowed to depart and be relocated so that pilots can continue with their training.


But Connor says the base will essentially be closed to aircraft until the Boeing 737 plane is removed from the river.

Federal investigators say they’re still deciding whether to relocate the plane off the base, which would require the use of a barge.

None of the 143 passengers and crew members had serious injuries from Friday night’s landing.


5 p.m.

Federal investigators say pilots of a chartered jet that ran into a river at a Florida military base made a last-minute change to the runway where they would make a landing.

National Transportation Safety Board vice chairman Bruce Landsberg said Sunday that the pilots on the Miami Air International plane requested the change shortly before landing at Naval Air Station Jacksonville Friday night.

Landsberg says the 9,000-foot-long runway was essentially limited to 7,800 feet since there was wire set up to recover Navy aircraft in instances they couldn’t land on a carrier during training.

Landsberg says investigators at this point don’t know why the pilots wanted the change.

None of the 143 passengers and crew members had serious injuries from the landing that ended in the St. Johns River.


3:45 p.m.

Officials at a military base in Florida where a jet rolled into a river says booms are doing their job of containing aircraft fuel from spreading into the waterway.

Officials at Naval Air Station Jacksonville said Sunday that engineers also are using a vacuum skimmer to remove contaminants that may have been released from the Boeing 737.

The plane landed at the base Friday night and then skidded off the runway into the St. Johns River. Passengers and crew members lined up on the plane’s wings as they awaited rescue from the shallow waters.

None of the 143 passengers and crew members were seriously injured, although almost two dozen sought medical attention for minor injuries.

The base’s commanding officer says containing and removing the fuel is a top priority.


12:55 p.m.

Cell phone video taken by a passenger shows other passengers and crew lining up on a plane’s wing as they get drenched by rain after the aircraft has landed in a river at a Florida military base.

The video taken by passenger Darwing Silva last Friday shows passengers in yellow life jackets cautiously walking along the Boeing 737’s left wing as they wait to be rescued from the St. Johns River at Naval Air Station Jacksonville.

Silva shared the video with Jacksonville television station News4Jax.

Someone shouts out, “Baby coming through!” A man can be seen holding an infant in his arms.

There were no serious injuries. Authorities say a 3-month-old infant was the only passenger hospitalized but only for observation.


11 a.m.

A passenger on the chartered jet that crashed into a river at a military base in Florida said passengers initially were told the aircraft might not be fit for takeoff. Then the flight was cleared to leave Cuba, but with the warning there would be no air conditioning.

Darwing Silva told the Tampa Bay Times that even though the plane was hot, there were no other problems during the flight from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

He said the landing at Naval Air Station Jacksonville seemed normal at first, but then the plane didn’t stop on the runway. He says there was a loud bang, he hit his head on the ceiling, and the jet ended up in the water. He says he ushered people out an emergency door onto a wing.

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