By Brandon Ward
A SAAB 340 airplane carrying eight passengers and three crew members made an emergency landing at Meridian Regional Airport Tuesday afternoon.
The plane landed safely and no one was injured.
A warning signal activated in the cockpit prompted the emergency landing, Meridian Airport Authority President Tom Williams said.
"The airplane was about 40 miles from Meridian when it declared an emergency," Williams said. "Air traffic controllers gave the SAAB priority handling to land in Meridian. Air Traffic Control alerted the Key Field Fire Department which activated the airport emergency plan."
Williams said the Meridian Police, Meridian Fire Department and Metro Ambulance responded to their staging positions to wait for the plane to land.
"At 2:36 p.m. the plane landed without event and taxied to the parking apron with no difficulties. The emergency was terminated shortly thereafter."
Williams said the Key Field Fire Department, operated by the Air National Guard, trains for these emergencies regularly.
"In fact, just this morning the Meridian Airport Authority held an annual tabletop exercise for all on-airport and off-airport agencies to discuss proper emergency response to an airport incident," said Williams. "We have an impressive group of emergency responders in Lauderdale County."
The Air National Guard Fire Department has 11 firefighters on duty each shift. Williams said the Meridian Police Department, Meridian Fire Department, and Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department normally respond to assist with traffic control and backup for firefighters. Metro Ambulance responds to triage and transports the injured, although in this case there were no injuries.
"Citizens should be proud of the resources and cooperation between these resources. The air traffic control tower always does a great job handling these emergencies," Williams said.
Williams said the SAAB is a highly computerized aircraft and is constantly cross checking the aircraft's systems for problems and that occasionally the systems find a problem when none exist.