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Tue, May 11, 2004

Flight Attendant's Warning Probably Saved Lives

12 People Hurt, But PAX Say It Could Have Been Much Worse

"Brace position, please. This is an emergency."

Those were the last words passenger Luis Ramirez Alicea remembers hearing before American Eagle Flight 5401 blew a tire, ran off the runway at San Juan's Luis Munoz Marin International Airport Sunday. The aircraft's wing struck the ground, causing the flight to depart the runway.

"The other people followed the instructions," Alicea was quoted as saying in San Juan's Primera Hora newspaper. "If not, there would have been deaths."

There were strong, gusty winds at the airport when the Super ATR approached the airport, but it's not immediately clear why the flight attendant gave the "brace" warning. No worries. The warning was given and heeded.

Twelve of the 22 people on board the aircraft were hurt in the landing, the pilot and copilot among them. Others were injured, but were released after being treated at the airport, according to a spokesman at the airport.

The pilot of the Super ATR reportedly didn't advise the airport that he expected problems upon landing. There was no indication of an in-flight emergency.

The NTSB and FAA are beginning their investigation into the landing accident.

FMI: www.faa.gov

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