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United Airlines flight has mechanical issues, lands safely in Kona

By Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

File photo of Boeing 777-200 via Wikimedia Commons, Photo by Jules Meulemans

File photo of Boeing 777-200 via Wikimedia Commons, Photo by Jules Meulemans

United Airlines flight 641, with 355 people on board (344 passengers, 11 crew) out of Los Angeles, landed at Kona International Airport after having mechanical issues in-flight Thursday morning (July 23). The plane was bound for Honolulu but diverted to Kona and landed at about 10:45 a.m. The flight had been schedule to arrive on Oahu at 10:39 a.m.

The website FlightAware, which tracks flights, reports the plane losing altitude and speed about 8:45 a.m. HST. The plane lost about 12,000 feet in altitude and about 200 mph in ground speed in six minutes. By 9:50 a.m. HST the plane was reported to be increasing speed and gaining altitude as it continued to Hawaii. (note that ground speed differs from airspeed)

Emergency crews from State airport crews and Hawaii County were deployed at Kona International Airport for the plane’s landing. The crews were not needed after the plane landed without incident.

Tim Sakahara, Public Information Officer for the Hawaii Department of Transportation, said United plans to charter a flight to take the passengers to Honolulu. Sakahara said the diverted plane, a Boeing 777-200, remains at Kona International Airport. A spokesperson for United Airlines said the passengers were provided food and beverages in Kona, were being made arrangements for their final destinations and will be offering these customers additional compensation.

MEDIA RELEASE FROM KONA COMMUNITY HOSPITAL

Kona Community Hospital Prepares for Major Aircraft Mishap

July 23, 2015 Kealakekua, HI – Today Kona Community Hospital (KCH) leadership and staff activated NIMS incident protocols in response to notification that an incoming Honolulu-bound United Airlines flight had been diverted to the Kona International Airport experiencing mechanical problems.

Facility director, Eric Willis said, “The hospital participates in National Incident Command System approach to incident management. It’s a very organized way to respond to large scale emergencies.”

Hospital leadership called a Code Triage and established an incident command center at 10 a.m. after being notified by Healthcare Association of Hawaii (HAH) of the potential for an aircraft mishap with casualties.

KCH’s Triage Disaster Plan was activated. All essential hospital and security personnel immediately outlined their roles and began preparations for a large scale disaster.

Emergency and surgical department staff notified off-duty nurses, physicians and surgeons to be on standby.

Admitting department and business office personnel were placed on standby for emergency registration.

The hospital’s two triage tents were erected adjacent to the emergency department. The yellow triage tents are used to manage an influx of patients or casualties.

A decontamination tent was set up and provisioned in the KCH oncology clinic parking lot.

Employees from human resources, infection control, medical oncology and housekeeping sprang into action to help maintenance and security employees set up the temporary emergency structures.

Both triage tents and the decontamination tent were deployed within 25 minutes.

At 10:40 a.m. department heads were called to the hospital command center. Facility director, Willis, announced that the United flight had landed safely at the airport, which led to sighs of relief and clapping.

“This is a huge relief,” Willis said. “I am proud of KCH’s level of preparedness. Thankfully, this turned out to be a drill. I’m confident that if an emergency arises, we’ stand ready and vigilant.”

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