- A hard landing occurred at Maui’s Kahului Airport, injuring six people on board an American Airlines Airbus A321neo.
- Windy conditions and pilot error could have played a role in the rough landing.
- Hard landings can lead to injuries and aircraft damage, prompting the carrier to remove the jet from service pending a thorough inspection.
On January 28, an Airbus A321neo aircraft touched down sharply at Maui’s Kahului Airport (OGG), resulting in six people being injured. The incident occurred shortly after 14:00 local time, upon completion of American Airlines Flight 271 from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
The aircraft touched down hard on the airport’s runway 02/20, resulting in the injury of five cabin crew members and one passenger. According to the Maui Police Department, all six individuals remain in stable condition.
No damage was reported to the aircraft at the time, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has launched a full investigation of the incident. The A321, carrying 167 passengers alongside seven crew members, has been removed from service pending inspection, according to NBC News.
While on final approach at Kahului Airport, the aircraft performed what FAA referred to as a “hard landing.” According to Beat of Hawaii, 14 miles per hour winds alongside 80-degree temperatures were reported at the time of the incident.
Photo: Angel DiBilio | Shutterstock
There has been no comment from the FAA about whether the windy conditions played a role in the aircraft’s rough landing. Not much is known about the cause of the incident, with the organization only releasing the following statement:
“American Airlines Flight 271, an Airbus A320, made a hard landing on Runway 20 at Kahului Airport in Hawaii at approximately 2 p.m. local time. The FAA will investigate.”
According to information published by The Aviation Herald, the aircraft rolled comfortably off the runway and taxied to the gate normally. The uninjured passengers were then able to deplane without any difficulty.
The crew members and passengers who were injured following the incident were quickly rushed to the hospital, where their condition remains stable. American Airlines provided the following comment to Simple Flying regarding the incident:
“American Airlines flight 271 with service from Los Angeles (LAX) to Maui (OGG) experienced an issue upon landing in OGG. The aircraft taxied to the gate under its own power and customers deplaned normally. The aircraft was taken out of service for inspection by our maintenance team. The safety of our customers and team members is our top priority.”
What is a hard landing?
A hard landing occurs when an aircraft touches down with a higher angle of attack than desirable, which can, in extreme cases, lead passengers to be injured. While under ideal conditions, hard landings are extremely rare, wind, precipitation, and visibility issues can drastically increase the risk of such events taking place,
Crew diverted the flight to Gran Canaria out of an abundance of caution and more robust maintenance facilities.
However, another major cause of hard landings is pilot error, which will likely be one of the key factors that FAA investigators will need to scrutinize in close detail. Mechanical issues, wind shear, and even runway conditions can also play a role in causing these types of accidents.
Aircraft can also sustain heavy damage as a result of hard landings, which is likely the primary reason behind American’s decision to remove the jet in question from service. The stress of high landing forces can cause structural damage to the plane and can require the replacement of landing gear components and tires.
Beat of Hawaii reported that a similar incident had occurred at Kahului Airport last year. According to the news outlet’s reports, crosswind conditions were also present at the time of the hard landing, alongside major turbulence during final approach.