Cargo jet snaps in half: Could this happen on commercial flight?

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (NewsNation) — A cargo jet split in half Friday after sliding off the runway during an emergency landing in Costa Rica.

The DHL Boeing 757 cargo plane en route to Guatemala was forced to return to the airport in Costa Rica and make an emergency landing after the crew detected a failure in the plane’s hydraulic system just 35 miles into its journey.

Heart-pounding video shows the plane on the Juan Santamaría Airport runway with smoke coming from the back wheels as it tries to slow down. Then, the plane spins and falls into a ditch where it snaps in two.

The plane had a crew of two onboard. Fortunately, neither was hurt.

Aviation expert David Kerley joined NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” to discuss his reaction to the jarring crash video.

Kerley says he first thought “something was significantly wrong with, it appears to be the braking, it could be an engine, because you saw one side going faster than the other. That’s why you saw the spin of the aircraft.”

He believes there could be more issues other than the hydraulic system failure reported by the flight crew.

“The question will be, Was that hydraulic problem actually connected to the landing gear? DHL, there’s a report, said that something actually happened when they landed as well. So you could have a secondary problem along with the original problem that brought them back to the airport that caused this issue,” Kerley said.

While this crash happened to a cargo plane, NewsNation asked how likely it would be to happen to a commercial flight.

“It’s hard to say. I mean, basically, the pilots had a hydraulic problem, they decided to come back to the airport, they circled for quite a while before they attempted this landing, apparently, and most likely dumping fuel, which they normally do, because they took off with a heavier load of fuel and they want to get rid of some of that before they landed. But if this DHL report is correct, that they had an additional problem of landing, it’s too early to tell how much of an issue this is with other aircraft and whether or not, once again, that first hydraulic problem was actually connected to what happened when they actually got on the ground. A lot of folks will want to know. Boeing will be there as well the NTSB to figure this out, to answer your question, whether this could happen on another aircraft,” Kerley said.

Airport officials say the crash forced a shutdown that lasted for hours, impacting 8,500 passengers. Fifty-seven commercial and cargo flights were disrupted and at least 32 other flights were diverted to alternate airports.

The airport has since reopened, but an incident response team will be conducting an investigation to determine what happened prior to the crash.

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