The CBS4 I-Team learned that parts have actually come off other Atlas Air 747′s in the past although not all the way off. In fact, CBS4 discovered falling parts coming off other airplanes have hurt and killed dozens during the last 30 years.
“A big piece of the wing fell from the sky,” exclaimed one eyewitness.
It was the kind of thing no one would expect.
“I couldn’t believe it,” admitted another.
A huge chunk of wing, technically something called the actuator ferring cover, fell off Atlas Air cargo plane Flight 46 as it was on final approach to Miami International Airport.
The 747 landed at the airport without incident and fortunately, no one was injured. The piece of fiberglass fell onto the mall’s empty parking lot.
Resident Rodhney King lives near the airport and says he recently became worried about a crash or falling debris from planes passing overhead on final approach.
He told CBS4 he thought one of these days an accident would happen.
While it’s rare to have parts fall off airplanes, the CBS4 I-Team dug up records that show it happens more often than you might imagine. Since 1982, there have been at least 53 other incidents where parts fell off airplanes in flight just in the United States. The incidents killed 51 people, injured 26 others.
And the I-Team dug further and discovered this is not the first incident or accident involving an Atlas Air cargo plane. There have been 5 incidents around the world involving Atlas 747′s including three very similar incidents to this one where parts started to come off the plane. One of those happened in Miami in April 17, 1997 when the skin of the right wing partially came off during take-off damaging an engine and forcing pilots to turn around and land at MIA with no further damage.
We learned that in a 1997 incident, where part of the wing came off, that the Atlas Air plane had been inspected four months earlier. The inspectors apparently missed the problem with the right wing and failed to correct it. On Friday afternoon, Atlas released a statement saying it was grateful no one was hurt, it is cooperating with the investigation and takes this matter very seriously.
The FAA is now investigating.