ROMULUS (WWJ) – Two airplanes collided at Detroit Metro Airport while headed for de-icing on a bitterly cold morning.
The incident happened around 6 a.m. Wednesday when the wing of an American Airlines plane clipped the tail of a Southwest Airlines jet while on the taxiway. Temperatures were around 25 degrees.
Airport Spokesperson Mike Conway said representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board are headed to Romulus to investigate what happened.
No injuries were reported, but passengers were stuck on the planes for nearly three hours as airport crews assessed the situation. Passengers finally were ushered off the planes just before 9 a.m.
Rochester Hills resident Jim Bishop, who was headed down to Mexico, was among the passengers trapped on the American Airlines plane.
“We were taxiing over to get the wings de-iced and there was a plane sitting, kind of facing the opposite direction, and our wing came across the back of that plane and we were just too close to it and clipped the back,” he said. “It tore a piece of our wing off and the tail cone is cut completely off of the other plane.”
Bishop, who was sitting in an aisle seat, said the whole plane shook from the collision.
“The lady sitting next to me, she was like ‘Oh my God! We’re too close,'” he said.
Roughly five to 10 minutes passed, Bishop said, before crews told passengers what was going on.
“Somebody came over and said there was an accident,” he said. ” And then a stewardess just came by and we asked him what could we do — you know, we’ve been sitting here for an hour and the air is not on, it’s stuffy as it can be in here — and he said ‘Well, this has never happened so we don’t know what to do.'”
Bishop said the passengers were calm but angry — many missed connecting flights as they sat on the tarmac waiting for instructions.
“The metal is kind of ground together, so we’re waiting for the other plane to pull forward to free our wing from the back of their plane,” he said. “Their plane died I guess, so that plane is going to have to be towed away from us and then we can go back
to the gate.”
Conway said the accident is relatively minor, despite everything involved.
“It doesn’t look like a lot of damage,” he said. “No fuel leakage. No injuries.”
Both airlines are apologizing to passengers.
A representative from Southwest Airlines said Flight 9 was involved in the accident. Crews are trying to accommodate customers on alternate flights.
“The Southwest aircraft is now out of service for maintenance,” the statement said. “We appreciate the patience of our customers as we work diligently to get them safely to their final destinations.”
A spokesperson for American Airlines said their plane was carrying Flight 1231.
“American apologizes for the inconvenience and will be re-accommodating passengers,” a statement said.
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