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I'm Trying to Figure This One Out - RonO's Ramblings

Mar. 26th, 2010 06:46 am I'm Trying to Figure This One Out

There are reports this morning (I cannot find a link online) that a Continental flight from Newark to Los Angles had to divert to Farmington NM when a passenger had a heart attack.

I can understand landing ASAP in that situation. But what I cannot understand is diverting to Farmington instead of Albuquerque? Considering that the plane was probably at, or near, its "cursing altitude" so it would take some time to descend to landing. So did that make Farmington significantly closer than Albuquerque.

According to the TV reports, because the runway was too short, the plane had to be offloaded completely and two other planes were used to get the plane (I assume), everyone and all of their luggage to LAX. Had they instead landed in Albuquerque, they could have taken back off after refueling - the strip at ABQ/KAFB regularly handles large planes, and has handled 747s on occasion (albiet ones from a pair that may be specially configured for short runways). Additionally, Albuquerque has the state's only Level I trama center - not that the hospital in Farmington wouldn't be able to handle a routine heart attack, but I'd think that they'd rather avoid the second airlift if it wasn't routine.

So, as I said, I'm just wondering why the plane diverted to Farmington.

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Comments:

From:kevin_standlee
Date:March 26th, 2010 02:46 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Farmington is indeed a puzzling choice. Lisa flew out of ABQ back when she was working on a pilot's license, and she tells me that the runway was long enough for her light plane to take off, land, take off, land, and take off again, and would be no problem for an regular 747.
From:erikvolson
Date:March 26th, 2010 05:39 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Aha. It was CO602.

http://flightaware.com/live/flight/COA602/history/20100325/1720Z/KEWR/KFMN

They were well into AZ when the emergency happened, and KFNM was much closer than KABQ when they made the decision to divert.

Apparently, they didn't change planes, but they did move the luggage to another plane. 6500' runway, should have been easy for a 737-800, given that they'd burned off a good deal of fuel from EWR, but the field elevation is 5500', so they decided to play it safe.