Plane Skids Off Runway in Denver
Continental Airlines Flight 1404 slid off the runway at Denver International Airport on Saturday. The Boeing 737-500 was carrying 115 people and was en route to Houston. According to reports from both authorities and passengers, the flight began normally, but became increasingly bumpy. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) say the crew apparently attempted to abort the takeoff when the accident occurred. The jet went across a field, then a taxiway, and then an access road before it stopped at the bottom of a hill. Passengers say the cabin began to fill with smoke and escape chutes were deployed. All 115 people escaped, something authorities say is “a miracle,” but 38 were injured, mostly with fractures. Very few people are still hospitalized.
The NTSB is reportedly looking at the braking system as a cause for the accident, but state that it is too early to know for sure. However, if the crew decides to abort a takeoff, the pilot moves the throttle to the idle position, spoilers are activated to slow the jet, and maximum anti-skid breaking is applied to bring the aircraft to a safe stop. A malfunction in the braking system could have caused the 737 to leave the runway. A wind-shear event is also being looked into.
The fuselage of the aircraft was scorched along the right side and cracked, but otherwise intact. The left engine was separated from the aircraft.
Some initial clues into the accident may be answered in the next few weeks, but the NTSB says it may take a year before the investigation is complete.