February 8, 2000
Web posted at: 3:03 a.m. EST (0803 GMT)
SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- An Alaska Airlines MD-80 jetliner made an emergency landing at San Francisco International airport after reports of sparks coming from the aircraft's tail Monday night.
Alaska Airlines Flight 289 was flying to Seattle from the Mexican resort of Puerto Vallarta. It landed in San Francisco about 7:45 p.m. Monday (10:45 p.m. EST), airport duty manager Dennis Neves said. There were no injuries.
A Northwest airlines crew following the plane warned the Alaska Airlines crew that sparks were coming from the back of the aircraft, CNN has learned. Airline officials had no explanation for the sparks early Tuesday.
The pilot of Monday's flight declared an emergency in order to get first priority to land, Alaska Airlines spokesman Jack Evans said.
"The pilot would not have declared an emergency if not for air traffic control issues in San Francisco," said Evans. He said the MD-80-series aircraft and Alaska Airlines are safe.
"I think the thing that people need to keep in mind is that this aircraft is one of the safest aircraft ever built in the history of aviation," Evans said.
It was unclear what caused Monday's problems: Evans speculated that something, such as a bird, may have been sucked into one of the engines. Pilots had no indication on their gauges that there was anything wrong with the engine, said Evans.
The flight was following the same route as the Alaska Airlines MD-83 that crashed off Los Angeles on January 31, killing all 88 aboard.
Investigators suspect a problem with the horizontal stabilizer -- a part at the rear of the plane -- caused the fatal crash.
Since then, three other jets from the MD-80 series have aborted flights due to problems with the stabilizer. But some airline officials fear pilots concerned about the Alaska Airlines crash may be inadvertently overheating the motors on airplane stabilizers by repeatedly testing them before takeoff.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.