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Conflicting reports on why HAL’s flight delayed landing

FAA and HAL are giving different reasons for the delay

Port Administration director Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Poumele says she is waiting for an “accurate” report from Hawaiian Airlines as to why the Wednesday night flight from Honolulu had to circle over Tutuila for a period of time before the flight actually landed at Pago Pago International Airport.

In the meantime, Hawaiian Airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration’s Pacific Division office in Los Angeles, which oversees Pago Pago, have provided conflicting responses to Samoa News’ requests for comments.

The Hawaiian Airlines flight, operating Wednesdays to accommodate the busy summer months, was to have arrived around 9:20p.m or before 9:30p.m. However Samoa News received that evening inquiries as to why the flight appeared to be circling over Tutuila instead of landing. One report to Samoa News that Wednesday evening from a resident on the far east side of Tutuila said village residents could hear the plane turning around more than twice.

A senior Samoa News supervisor, who just happened to be at the airport to meet an arriving passenger, said around 9:35p.m. Wednesday that the rumor at the airport was that the plane’s delay in landing was allegedly attributed to a problem with runway lights at the airport.

Lights at the runway are maintained by the local airport but an ASG official told Samoa News around 10p.m. Wednesday that the report “may be just rumor itself” as the runway lights were operational at the time.

Responding to Samoa News inquiries, Hawaiian Air spokesperson Ann Botticelli said yesterday afternoon that the Instrument Landing System (or ILS) at the Pago Pago airport “needed to be reset, so the Captain circled the airport until that occurred and then landed without incident.”

Botticelli said from Honolulu, “The instrument landing system provides runway alignment and glideslope information upon approach to the runway.”

However, FAA Pacific Division spokesman Ian Gregor told Samoa News that the ILS “was operating normally” when the Hawaiian Air aircraft approached Pago Pago. “We did not have to reset the system,” he said from Los Angeles and this is based on a report from the FAA office in Pago Pago.

Responding to Samoa News questions, Taimalelagi said yesterday that Port Administration is “in communication with the local and regional FAA representatives,” adding that there is “a slight difference in the report” from the Airport and the local FAA office.

“We need an accurate report from Hawaiian Airlines as to why the aircraft had to circle Aunu'u and Leone several times before landing,” said Taimalelagi, who was one of the passengers onboard the Hawaiian Air flight Wednesday night, returning to the territory following meetings off island.

She said Port Administration would provide “an accurate report as soon as Hawaiian Airlines provides the report.”

Around 11:36p.m Wednesday, Hawaiian flight 466 roared down the runway and was airborne into the night sky, as rumors persisted at the airport as to the cause of the plane’s delay in landing.