Updated: Wed, 02/20/2013 - 18:35

Followup: Delta airliner ran off Savannah-Hilton Head runway

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Delta flight 2307 ended its routine daily trip from Atlanta to Savannah late Tuesday afternoon with some out-of-the ordinary drama when the Boeing (Douglas) DC-9 carrying 125 passengers and crew overshot the taxiway after landing and ended up in the grass.

No one was injured and passengers and crew were able to safely exit the plane, which was towed to a gate at the terminal several hours later.

Airport spokeswoman Lori Lynah said overall operations were unaffected by the incident.

Delta issued an apology Tuesday night for the inconvenience.

“The aircraft was examined by a team of Delta technicians and is now repositioning back to Atlanta,” Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant said Wednesday.

“We are also following up with each customer today to offer an additional apology for the inconvenience.”

The plane left Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport shortly after 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and landed at Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport on schedule about 6:45 p.m.

As it was turning from runway No. 1 onto the taxiway, the plane’s front wheel went off the hard surface and into the grass. Eventually, the entire plane ended up stuck in the grass adjacent to the taxiway.

And that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, according to one passenger.

“If we hadn’t gone into the grass, I’m not at all sure we could have stopped before we got to the terminal,” said Christine Bennetts of Southport, England, who flew from Manchester to Atlanta yesterday, then on to Savannah on Delta 2307 for an art seminar.

“It was an absolutely normal flight almost to the end,” Bennetts said, adding that the aircraft descended into Savannah through thick cloud cover.

“When we got down to about 200 feet and the clouds broke, we could tell the plane was going too fast,” she said. “The angle just didn’t seem right.”

The landing was hard and the plane was still traveling fast as they approached the end of the runway, Bennetts said.

“The pilot tried to turn the airplane to the left, but that just wasn’t going to happen and we went into the grass. After we came to a stop, the pilot apologized profusely, over and over,” she said.

There was no panic, Bennetts added, and the pilot came on the intercom every few minutes to keep the passengers informed.

She also had praise for airport and emergency personnel.

“The fire crews and police were there in what seemed like only seconds,” she said. “There was someone in what looked like a space suit checking the outside of the plane for fuel leaks.”

Once workers had the plane stabilized in place, they deployed a set of inflatable staircases off the back of the aircraft, Bennetts said, helping women and children off first.

“We were put on buses and escorted to the terminal, where they gave us refreshments while they checked to make sure everyone was accounted for and determined that it was safe to unload our luggage,” she said.

“Everyone was extremely efficient and professional.”

Delta gave each passenger a $200 voucher for the inconvenience, Bennetts said, adding that she would use it without hesitation.

“I’m not the slightest bit worried about flying again.”

Delta’s Durrant said it was premature to speculate on what might have caused the incident.

“We’re still reviewing all that happened,” he said.

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