A Boston bound flight has been diverted to Delaware after a United Express pilot reported smoke present in the aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said there were sixty-one passengers and four crew members on board flight 3759 that was diverted to New Castle Airport close to Wilmington, Delaware. The FAA reported that the flight was diverted around 9:50 a.m. Wednesday morning, January 29.
The plane was a Canadian Regional jet that was operated by Mesa Airlines. It departed this morning as scheduled from Washington Dulles International Airport and was bound for Boston Logan International airport before being diverted. ABC News reported that firefighters met the jet upon landing at New Castle Airport, and the Delaware Air National Guard base volunteered time and buses to take passengers and crew to the closest terminal. According to Boston.com, United Airlines released a statement earlier letting people know that the plane landed safely in Delaware and the airline was working on getting their customers to their destinations as soon as possible.
This Boston bound flight diverted first to Dulles and finally to New Castle Airport. Among the passengers was 47-year-old Reston, Virginia resident, Walter Alcorn, who stated in a telephone interview that the plane was cruising along like normal when it started to descend and the oxygen masks were released. Alcorn reported smelling a little smoke in the aircraft when the captain came over the intercom and informed passengers they were returning to Dulles. Shortly after this information was given to the passengers aboard the plane, it began to descend at a rapid rate. At about 10,000 feet the plane changed direction and headed for a landing at New Castle Airport. Alcorn said some passengers appeared distressed, but overall passengers had a variety of reactions. He also told press associates that there was not much revealed to the passengers as to what the reason was for diversion. According to Boston.com, some passengers waited around for assistance with transportation, but others rented cars and drove to their destinations. Alcorn, like others, was on a business trip.
Not much is being disclosed at this time as to what was the source of the smoke. Passengers such as Alcorn did say that the pilot told them there seemed to be an issue with the air intake and cabin pressure aboard the plane. Shashi Bellamkonda, also a passenger on flight 3759, had planned to spend the day in Boston. As he told CBS reporters, this flight was scheduled to be a routine forty minute flight. Bellamkonda reported seeing smoke in the cabin after the oxygen masks were dispersed. However, he said that he and other passengers did not immediately take this to mean any kind of alarm. It was not until the cabin crew came over the intercom and requested the passengers put their oxygen masks on that they actually did so. The cabin crew expressed the need to do so because cabin pressure was dropping.
This Boston bound flight diverted to New Castle in order to land the plane as quickly as possible. Bellamkonda said the biggest worry that passengers had was whether they would be making a water landing since flying into Wilmington airport requires passing over quite a bit of water. According to CBS, the Delaware River and Bay Authorities informed the public that the problems on board were caused by an on board oxygen generator, and the diversion was a precaution to take care of necessary on board issues.
By Sarah Widger