Passengers Safe after Boeing 737 Ends Up in Florida River

 - May 6, 2019, 11:17 AM
A Miami Air Boeing 737-800 lies in Florida’s St. John’s River following a runway overrun accident May 3 at NAS Jacksonville. (Photo: NTSB)

A Boeing 737-800 operated by contract lift provider Miami Air International on a May 3 military charter flight from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba overran the runway on landing at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, Florida, coming to rest approximately 1,200 feet from the departure end in the shallow waters of the St. Johns River.

Flight 293, carrying 136 passengers and six crewmembers, landed on runway 10 at 9:43 pm local time. A photo released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) shows the 18-year-old jet, N732MA, veered right upon departing the runway, continued across the ground, and missed a pier supporting the approach lighting system to runway 28.

The NTSB photo shows damage to the aircraft’s radome and starboard wing, with both engine nacelles underwater. Online flight tracking data shows the aircraft departed NAS Jacksonville for Cuba at 3:04 pm EDT, nearly five hours later than scheduled, reportedly due to an issue with the 737’s air conditioning system and a subsequently required crew changeover. The flight left Cuba's Leeward Point Field at 7:19 pm local time.

Archived weather information indicated a strong thunderstorm immediately east of the airfield at the time of the accident; a Metar issued at 9:45 pm EDT—two minutes after the aircraft touched down—reported winds from 290 degrees at eight knots gusting to 16. Passengers told local media the aircraft “bounced” on initial touchdown.

Runway 10 extends 9,003 feet in length and features a 997-foot displaced threshold. In a May 4 press conference, NTSB vice-chairman Bruce Landsberg noted that 7,800 feet of the runway surface was available for landing, and the runway surface was not grooved to shed rainwater. NAS Jacksonville Commanding Officer Michael Connor told reporters the runway was completely renovated three years ago, at which time a more pronounced centerline crown was added to assist with drainage.

According to local media reports, the flight was transporting members of the U.S. military and their families. Twenty-one people sought medical attention after the accident with an infant reportedly among the hospitalized.