A Southwest Airlines plane flying to Chicago experienced maintenance issues and was able to land safely in Oakland Wednesday morning.
According to WFAA, the plane in question, Southwest 2547, was flying from Oakland International Airport to Chicago Midland. A total of 139 passengers were on board.
Passengers saw sparks when the pilot brought up the landing gear after takeoff. The gear didn’t function after the pilot tried to bring it down. The pilot flew the plane for four hours, circling over California’s Central Valley, to burn much of the fuel tank.
In a statement, Southwest said, “After takeoff, the Captain in Command made the decision to return to Oakland to check a maintenance item on the aircraft.”
A passenger said there was nervousness among the people on board. “The worst part was the beginning because no one would tell us anything,” Ashley Stasio said, as reported by CBS San Francisco. “Oh, I thought I was going to die. People were really scared. It made me feel good because the fact that it was such an emergency, they had a lot of backup and we’re all safe.”
Once the passengers learned what had happened and that they would be staying in the air to burn the fuel, “people started to panic at the end. You never know if they are telling you the truth,” Stasio said.
Southwest said that the captain in command decided to land in Oakland to have a maintenance item of the plane checked.
“Safety is of paramount importance,” Southwest added in its statement. “We appreciate our customers’ patience while we work to get them to their final destinations for the holiday.”
NBC Bay Area reports that one truck and four engines were sent to the scene by the fire department in case the plane caught fire upon landing.