US

Airline: Preliminary check after Aleutians emergency landing indicates cooling fan failure

A preliminary inspection conducted after the emergency landing of a Cathay Pacific flight at a remote air base in the Aleutian Islands indicates that an equipment cooling fan failed, the Hong Kong-based airline said Thursday.

Smoke was detected around the cockpit area, prompting the captain of Flight CX884 to divert to Eareckson Air Station on Alaska's Shemya Island early Wednesday, the airline said.

No one was injured, and the jet landed safely. The plane was deemed serviceable and left the treeless, tundra-covered island to fly the 276 passengers and 18 crewmembers to Anchorage, 1,500 miles away. A plane flew in from Hong Kong to pick up the passengers in Anchorage and fly them to Los Angeles International Airport.

Cathay Pacific Airways said that flight arrived in Los Angeles shortly before 4:30 a.m. Thursday.

"Once again, we apologize to passengers for the delay, but everybody is safe and sound, and that's what's the most important," Cathay Pacific spokeswoman Jennifer Pearson said. "They're now at their destination."

The company said it will investigate the cause of the smoke. The National Transportation Safety Board was notified of the incident but is not investigating it at this time, according to NTSB investigator Shawn Williams.

Air Force officials said the passengers stayed on the plane and watched movies during the time they spent on Shemya Island, which is located in a sparsely populated area at the western tip of the Aleutians chain.

About 120 civilian contractors staff an early warning radar system at Shemya for the military. The island base has a 10,000-foot runway, which was developed in the 1940s for reconnaissance and bombing missions, according to officials.

Such emergency landings by large commercial carriers are unusual for the island, but they are not unheard of.

In July 2010, an American Airlines jet traveling from Dallas-Fort Worth to Tokyo made an emergency landing at Shemya after a fire warning light malfunctioned.