A drama in the air over the Skopje airport received an immediate reflection via Twitter, after a successful emergency landing.
On the night between February 10 and 11, an airplane of the Czech airline CSA first circled for 40 minutes trying to get the dysfunctional flaps to work, and then performed an emergency landing. The pilot managed to stop the plane at the end of the recently extended runway.
Among the passengers were the British Member of the European Parliament Richard Howitt, and the Macedonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikola Popovski. Within the EP Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. Howitt serves as the Rapporteur on Macedonia – and he is also an avid Twitterer. He tweeted immediately after the incident:
All now fine but just had emergency landing at Skopje on aircraft whose flaps failed. Told take brace position. Thought could be the end.
…and added some more details:
Emergency landing. Snow on runway. Fire engines lined up. Stewardess said: “pray, pray, pray.” #Czech Airline staff heroes. All OK now.
A report by MIA (a Macedonian state news agency) provided more details:
As the plane was landing, smoke appeared from the tires and the captain managed to stop the aircraft right at the end of the runway.
Howitt later commented:
…I didn't know at time about smoke. Told Foreign Minister: give pilot medal for stopping plane
Quite a few people re-tweeted Howitt's info and wrote to express support and relief. Mallen Baker wrote:
Glad it ended well – nightmare situation that anyone flying would prefer to avoid! Great that everyone safe
Extension of the runway was a part of the deal with the Turkish company TAV, which renovated and manages the airports in Macedonia through a 20-year lease contract.
While the cited flaps malfunction might have nothing to do with the weather, the ongoing Balkan snow storm does affect the air traffic in the region. A few days ago, the Macedonian Army helicopters that were supposed to carry supplies to the cut-off mountain villages could not take off [mk] due to continuous snowfall.