Weather, cargo plane crash delay Lubbock flights

CNJ staff

LUBBOCK — An early morning plane crash and winter weather are causing delays today at Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport.

Two people suffered minor injuries in the crash of a cargo plane.

Persons with scheduled flights should check with their airline, not the airport, for delays, airport director James Loomis said around 1 p.m. (CST).

“First off right now the roads are in deplorable condition, but everything’s been delayed. They need to call their airline,” he said.

“Things are moving, (but) we’re down to one runway right now and the runway where the crash (occurred) is still closed.”

A FedEx cargo plane crashed during landing, hitting the ground in a grassy area short of the runway.

Crew members, a 52-year-old Portland, Ore., man and a woman, 26 of Tacoma, Wash., were taken to a hospital but have been released, a spokeswoman at University Medical Center said.

FedEx spokeswoman Sandra Munoz said both were able to walk from the crash.

The crash happened just after 4:30 a.m. (CST) as the ATR-42 twin-turboprop aircraft was arriving from Fort Worth Alliance Airport in a freezing mist.

The plane hit the ground in grass about 300 feet from the end of the runway, Loomis said.

“They apparently bounced onto the pavement, skidded down the pavement and veered off to the right,” he said. “There is a trail of jet fuel from their impact area, which was in the grass, to where it sits now to the right of the runway north of the terminal.”

Officials say the plane caught fire and the blaze was quickly extinguished. Loomis said he could not speculate on whether weather was a factor.

Visibility at the time of the crash was 2 miles and the ceiling was about 500 feet, National Weather Service officials in Lubbock said. A light freezing drizzle was falling at the time, they said.

The plane was operated by Coeur d’Alene, Idaho-based Empire Airways under contract with Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx Corp.

Daniel Baker from the National Transportation Safety Board’s Denver office was en route to Lubbock to investigate, safety board spokesman Peter Knudson said. Loomis said an investigator from Washington, D.C. will assist in the investigation.