Passenger recounts emergency landing on Maui highway - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Passenger recounts emergency landing on Maui highway

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WAILEA, Maui (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A passenger on the Mokulele Airlines plane that was forced to land on a Maui highway on Monday said he heard a loud bang shortly before the plane lost all power.

"It just went 'boom' and then there was some odd sounds after and there was a series of sparks and stuff flying out of the aircraft," said the passenger who asked to remain anonymous.

He overheard other travelers calling their loved ones.

"People saying, 'I think we're gonna crash,' and people saying, 'I love you,' and stuff like that."

Federal investigators inspected the aircraft which was moved to an empty lot near Wailea. Authorities are trying to figure out why the Cessna carrying eight passengers and two pilots suddenly lost its engine.

None of the passengers suffered serious injuries.

One traveler said the trouble started about 13 minutes into the flight.

The 41-year-old said the Kamuela-bound plane turned back toward Maui and coasted for about 10 minutes. Panicked passengers called their loved ones as they waited in the dark.

"We lost power immediately and the plane sort of felt like it was going into a stall maybe," the passenger said.

"So the pilots initially pointed the plane sort of - not a direct nose dive - but we definitely dropped the nose down and started picking up speed again."

One airline expert called the emergency a "worst-case scenario." But he also credited pilots for their quick thinking.

"That sounds like a catastrophic engine failure," said Jeff Erb, a commercial pilot and former flight instructor.

"I give (the pilots) a 10, a 10-plus because anytime you can be in an emergency situation and lose power, you're coming down rapidly, you have very few options."

By dipping the plane, Erb said the pilot was able to pick up speed, which allowed the aircraft to glide over a longer distance so it could land safely.

Erb said the Cessna 208B is better suited for emergency landings than larger commercial jets because it's easier to maneuver.

Meanwhile, the Maui passenger said he was also worried that the plane might hit power lines, traffic lights or even cars as it landed.

"We were coming in roughly two or three times faster than a normal landing approach," he said.

"We were coming in so fast and so hard and all the cars and everything, I thought for sure we were not going to do too well with this landing."

Some frightened passengers screamed as the plane bounced a bit during the emergency landing, according to him. One of the wings knocked over a couple of street signs before the aircraft finally skidded to a stop.

"Everybody was just sort of hugging each other and hugging the pilots and stuff," the passenger said.

"I think the pilots did an exceptional job. I think they were in shock."

Hawaii News Now contacted Mokulele Airlines for a comment, but did not receive a response.

The company just launched the flight between Kahului, Maui and the Waimea-Kohala Airport on the Big Island a month ago.

For additional pictures of the emergency landing, check out mauinow.com

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