Published January 12, 2010
A crippled airliner landed safely at Newark Airport thanks to a veteran pilot's skill — but the radio system used by the ground rescue team crashed just when it was needed most, The New York Post has learned.
United Airlines Flight 634, its right landing gear malfunctioning, was approaching Newark on Sunday morning when rescue crews were alerted to race to the runway and prepare for a crash landing.
But by the time the teams were in place, their radios went dead, apparently because of utility work nearby.
"There couldn't have been a worse time for it to go down," a source said of the foul-up involving the Port Authority's Air Fire Rescue frequency.
At 8:50 a.m., the emergency system alerted rescue teams to the possibly crippled airliner approaching Newark. But soon after, a sergeant on the ground realized he couldn't communicate with his desk or other squads.
Using cellphones, cops alerted the crews to switch to backup frequencies. But by the time that happened, sources said, the Airbus had already safely skidded to its landing, with the 48 passengers and crew members on board scampering from the craft on emergency slides.