WATERLOO — A plane slid off the end of a runway Saturday night at Waterloo Regional Airport, but none of the 88 passengers were injured.
The incident occurred during the scheduled landing of a Boeing 737-800 twin-engine aircraft at 6:07 p.m., according to information from online flight tracking and data platform FlightAware. A storm system that included heavy rain was moving through Cedar Valley at the time, slowing efforts to rescue stranded passengers.
Waterloo Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Ben Petersen said 10 firefighters across four units responded to the incident within three hours.
“It had landed and it went on and slid off runway 36,” he said of the plane. “It was probably 500 to 1,000 feet from the runway, so the pavement.
“The plane stayed upright and there was no fire,” he added, which was the “best result” of the situation.
According to the airport’s website, 18/36 is its shorter secondary runway at 6,003 feet long and 150 feet wide.
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Regarding the storm, Petersen said, “I’m sure she played a role” in the incident. “I can’t say it caused it.” However, “weather and ground conditions played a part for us.”
He noted that the ground was saturated with torrential rain, which hampered efforts to quickly rescue passengers. Firefighters used airport maintenance roads to reach the plane.
“We had to work with airport maintenance to transport a portable stairwell to the crash site,” Petersen said. Once people got off the plane, they were loaded onto school buses and driven to the terminal.
Officials contacted school bus operators to obtain the vehicles. One was a Cedar Falls Community Schools bus and the other was a Durham School Services bus, which provides transportation to Waterloo Community Schools.
“Once they got to the terminal, I don’t know what accommodations were made,” Petersen said.
Waterloo Regional Airport officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the incident.
FlightAware shows the plane originated from Dane County Regional Airport in Madison, Wisconsin, and is operated by iAero Airways, a charter airline. Swift Airways, which offers charter flights from Waterloo to Laughlin/Bullhead City, Arizona, is owned by iAero. Caesars Entertainment operates two casinos in this area, 90 miles south of Las Vegas.
According to the Waterloo Airport website, the company had a charter flight due to leave at 7.30pm on Saturday. FlightAware data did not record this departure, but showed a flight departing Sunday at 2:55 p.m. for Laughlin/Bullhead City, Arizona.
Photos: Chase, accident on February 27, 2022