CHICAGO (CBS) — An American Eagle flight landed at DuPage Airport on Monday, shortly after takeoff from O’Hare International Airport, after the cockpit and passenger cabin began filling with smoke.
The plane took off from O’Hare around 8:30 a.m., headed for Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Shortly after takeoff, it was forced to turn around and make an emergency landing at DuPage Airport in West Chicago.
“SkyWest flight 2936, operating as American Eagle from Chicago O’Hare to Cedar Rapids, Iowa diverted to Dupage, Illinois, after reports of smoke in the cockpit. The flight landed safely and passengers deplaned normally. Mechanics will inspect the aircraft and we are working to help passengers resume their travels as quickly as possible,” American Airlines spokeswoman Marissa Snow said in an email.
Passenger Nick Ludwig said the flight attendant, who was working her first flight on her own, at first told passengers it was mist filling the cabin, but they could tell right away it was smoke.
“Immediately, everyone pretty much started to panic, and said ‘No, this isn’t mist,’ and so thankfully the pilot turned us around, and we made an emergency landing at the DuPage Airport in a matter of minutes, and it turned out okay,” Ludwig said in a video he recorded from the tarmac.
Passengers said they were only in the air about 10 minutes before making the emergency landing. Although passengers said the situation was handled in an orderly manner, it was still a frightening ordeal.
“Smoke everywhere. We could breathe; I mean, at least breathe, but it was a scary experience. I mean, just glad to be alive,” Ryan Clark said.
Ludwig recorded video on his phone after the plane landed around 9:15 a.m., showing passengers staying calm, despite the haze of smoke in the cabin.
The West Chicago Fire Protection District said the plane was evacuated after landing, but no injuries were reported.
Staff at DuPage Airport said it is very unusual to see an airliner land there, as the airport is a general aviation facility serving mostly single-engine planes. The American Eagle flight was a twin-engine Bombardier CRJ100 jet, which carries about 50 passengers.
“This is not a common occurrence at DuPage Airport, but it was the best possible outcome, so we’re glad we could be of assistance,” said Mark Doles, a DuPage Airport authority.
As the American Eagle jet sat waiting for mechanics, passengers were bussed back to O’Hare.
Ludwig texted CBS 2 that he is back in Iowa, safe and sound. He also said some of the passengers did not accept vouchers or get on later flights because they felt safer driving home.