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National Briefing / Washington, D.c.

Tape of stranded plane is released

August 22, 2009|Times Wire Reports

The pilot of an airliner stranded overnight on an airport tarmac in Minnesota this month pleaded unsuccessfully for her 47 passengers to be allowed to get off and go inside a terminal. "We just need to work out some way to get them off. . . . We can't keep them here any longer," she said.

The Transportation Department released recordings of the repeated appeals by the pilot and her airline's dispatchers while passengers were kept waiting for about six hours in the cramped plane.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said a preliminary investigation found that ExpressJet, the regional carrier which operated Continental Express Flight 2816 for Continental Airlines, wasn't at fault.

Instead, blame belongs with Mesaba Airlines, whose representative incorrectly told ExpressJet that the passengers couldn't be allowed inside the terminal because Transportation Security Administration personnel had left for the day, LaHood said.

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