Fuel cap issue forces Chattanooga flight's emergency landing
The company that handles commercial aircraft refueling at the Chattanooga Airport says an internal investigation is under way after a Dallas bound flight, departing Chattanooga Wednesday morning, had to make an emergency landing in Huntsville, Alabama due to an issue with the plane's fuel cap.
"He looks out on the wing and just sees fuel just flying out of the wing," says Cleveland's Richard Henson, one of the 41 passengers aboard American Airlines flight 2762.
Henson has cell-phone video that shows the fuel escaping the plane, described as a CRJ-200 by air carrier ExpressJet.
Henson, who's ultimate destination is San Antonio, says his flight was supposed to depart just before 6am, but instead took off two hours later with fuel as the reason.
" First they said they had to manually fuel the plane because the other way, I'm not sure exactly what that was, I didn't catch that, there's like a faster way to fuel it but that function of the plane wasn't working," says Henson.
Once the plane was finally airborne, the escaping fuel was seen and reported to the flight crew, with the pilot deciding to make an emergency landing in Huntsville.
" When they started letting us off the plane you could smell the gas, when you open up the door," says Henson.
While waiting during his Huntsville layover, Henson says the airline tried explaining to them what happened.
" Whoever the person in charge in Chattanooga that did the fuel fill on that side of the plane, did not put the cap back on correctly or properly," relays Henson.
The company charged with fueling planes at Chattanooga Airport is Wilson Air Center.
Channel 3 spoke with the operations manager at Wilson Air Center of Chattanooga, they did confirm that an internal investigation is under way and until it's complete, the company won't make any statements on this incident.
But ExpressJet, the air carrier, did release a statement, saying the plane landed without incident after the crew reported a mechanical issue with the fuel cap. They apologized to customers for the inconvenience.
" You always think about airlines safety there's no question," says Jill Weinger of Colorado Springs, who says she isn't overly worried about the fuel cap issue as she waits to board her next flight home.
" We're as probably as safe as we can be because they'll be double-checking it this time," speculates Weigner.
But Henson says he's thinking twice about his return flight home.
" There was faulty equipment and it kind of makes you on edge about getting on another one of American Airlines vehicles."
At last report, the flight which was set to arrive in Dallas earlier Wednesday morning was expected to touch down some seven hours later.