PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten, Mar 14 2017 – A plane carrying up to 189 holidaymakers came precariously close to missing the runway at one of the world’s most notorious airports last week, it has been alleged.
Footage shows a Boeing 737 flown by Canadian airline WestJet aborting its landing at Princess Juliana International Airport on the Caribbean island of St Maarten, which attracts scores of planespotters due to its close proximity to Maho Beach.
According to the aviation website ATCpilot.com, which posted the clip on YouTube on Saturday, those on the beach were “shocked” at the “close call” on March 7.
The video shows a second successful approach made around 45 minutes after the initial attempt. Nervous fliers will no doubt wince at the video, but WestJet claimed there was “nothing unusual” about the incident.
“According to the information I have been given there was nothing unusual about the first approach,” Lauren Stewart, a spokeswoman told an aviation journalist, adding that the plane was never lower than 500 feet from the sea.
But unnamed pilots disagreed after viewing the footage. “I’ll put money on the fact that jet was at 50 feet,” said one US airline captain. “To be that low and not over the runway is downright dangerous.”
Princess Juliana is regularly named among the world’s most spectacular airport approaches, and is used by carriers including American Airlines, Air France, KLM, Delta, WestJet, JetBlue and United. Sunbathers have long been able to stand on the shore and let huge aircraft ruffle their hair as they complete their approach.
Until last year, even Boeing 747s landed on the Caribbean island, but now the largest aircraft to use it is the Airbus A340-300, which holds up to 295 passengers. The 737 is capable of carrying up to 189.
Source: Caribbean News Service