Plane leaving St. George returns to airport after captain declares emergency

This Friday photo provided by passenger Don Bumps shows a SkyWest plane that lost a piece of the plane's engine during a flight from St. George, Utah. Passengers Scott Jackson and Don Bumps said they heard a loud bang and felt vibrations about 20 minutes into the flight from St. George to Phoenix. Jackson said the pilot then made a slow turn over the Grand Canyon and the plane returned safely to the airport, where the pilot told the passengers the cause was a detached piece of cowling. SkyWest spokeswoman Marissa Snow said the Bombardier CRJ200 regional jet returned to the airport due to an engine warning. St. George Regional Airport, St. George, Utah Nov. 17, 2017 | Photo by Don Bumps via AP, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A flight bound for Phoenix from the St. George Regional Airport was turned around Friday afternoon due to a possible issue with the plane’s engine.

This Friday photo provided by passenger Don Bumps shows a SkyWest plane that lost a piece of the plane’s engine during a flight from St. George, Utah. Passengers Scott Jackson and Don Bumps said they heard a loud bang and felt vibrations about 20 minutes into the flight from St. George to Phoenix. Jackson said the pilot then made a slow turn over the Grand Canyon and the plane returned safely to the airport, where the pilot told the passengers the cause was a detached piece of cowling. SkyWest spokeswoman Marissa Snow said the Bombardier CRJ200 regional jet returned to the airport due to an engine warning. St. George Regional Airport, St. George, Utah Nov. 17, 2017 | Photo by Don Bumps via AP, St. George News

Skywest flight 3133, operated by SkyWest Airlines as American Eagle, departed the airport at approximately 1:10 p.m. but returned shortly after takeoff due to an “engine indication,” according to a statement issued by SkyWest Airlines.

“The captain did declare an emergency out of an abundance of caution,” SkyWest spokesman Layne Watson said.

Emergency personnel from St. George Fire Department were dispatched to the airport at approximately 1:45 p.m. in response to the emergency declaration.

Passengers on the flight reportedly felt vibrations as the plane was flown back to the airport.

Passengers Scott Jackson and Don Bumps said they heard a loud bang and felt vibrations about 20 minutes into the flight, according to a report by The Associated Press.

Jackson said the pilot then made a slow turn over the Grand Canyon and the plane returned safely to the airport, where the pilot told the passengers the cause was a detached piece of cowling.

The return path of SkyWest flight 3133 after an “engine indication” necessitated its return to St. George Regional Airport Friday | Image courtesy FlightAware, St. George News

SkyWest spokeswoman Marissa Snow said the Bombardier CRJ200 regional jet returned to the airport due to an engine warning, according to the AP report. She could not confirm an exact cause of the issue.

“We’ve got mechanics that are out there now inspecting the aircraft,” Watson told St. George News Friday.

“The flight landed safely and we are working to help customers continue their travels to Phoenix on another flight as soon as possible,” SkyWest’s news release said. “We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience.”

St. George-based SkyWest Airlines offers multiple daily flights from the St. George Regional Airport to Salt Lake City, Denver, Phoenix and Los Angeles.

UPDATED Nov. 18, 5:30 a.m. This report is supplemented with passenger accounts reported by The Associated Press and passenger photos of the actual plane involved, a SkyWest plane. The featured image provided for illustration on first publication has been replaced with a passenger photo taken Friday of the actual plane.

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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5 Comments

  • SteveSGU November 17, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    Why didn’t they land in Flagstaff or Grand Canyon, the closest commercial airports, instead of flying back over the Grand Canyon to St. George? They could have put people on another plane or on a bus from Flagstaff to Phoenix.

    Let’s find out what the actual problem with the engine was and report that.

    • desertgirl November 18, 2017 at 11:02 am

      Well, SteveSGU why?

    • DB November 18, 2017 at 3:54 pm

      Where to start? First, Flagstaff and Grand Canyon airports are well east of a direct route between St George and Phoenix. Second, they had constant vibration and abnormal engine indications (not sure what those would have been, exactly). I’m sitting in the left seat of that plane, what do I want to be today, Captain or Travel Agent? KSGU was probably the nearest suitable airport, as the FAA says. The crew made the right choice.

    • paigeypie November 18, 2017 at 4:44 pm

      Call me old fashioned, but I’d just be thankful that I had competent pilots who made sure I got to the ground safely…. and ALIVE. They have to make important decisions in a split second during an emergency situation. It doesn’t matter where they land, if everyone is safe and alive that should be good enough. Sorry, they’re not going to risk a plane full of people’s lives so you can make your connection…

    • Hunter November 18, 2017 at 5:17 pm

      The PIC likely chose the most prudent and fastest route to land safely. And, absent immediate danger, the decision also includes how to accommodate the passengers. Going back to SGU provides more options than Flagstaff for SkyWest, as they can move passengers to LAX, SLC or DEN connecting flights. The majority of passengers on the flights to PHX are connecting to other cities, so they can be re-accommodated on other airlines via other hubs with minimal disruption instead of bussing to PHX from Flagstaff to then have to worry about their connection.

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