Cargo plane splits in half after emergency landing

A DHL cargo plane had to make an emergency landing at the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San José, Costa Rica, in the morning on April 7.

The deputy director of Costa Rica’s Civil Aviation Authority told The Guardian that the plane was headed to Guatemala but encountered a failure about 25 minutes after takeoff. Pilots requested to turn back, citing an issue with the plane’s hydraulic landing gear and made an emergency landing seemingly just in time.

Footage of the incident shows the plane skidding on the runway before coming to a stop. When the plane stopped, the aircraft appeared to break in half — separating the body of the plane from its tail wing.

According to a DHL spokesperson, who confirmed to Insider that it was one of its Boeing planes that split in half, nobody onboard was physically harmed during the incident.

“One crew member underwent medical checks as a precaution,” the spokesperson added. “We are coordinating with airport authorities on moving the aircraft from the area near the runway.”

Sine the emergency landing, usual airport operations have resumed at Juan Santamaria. The airport had to close for five hours to handle the DHL plane, affecting around 8,500 passengers and 57 commercial and cargo flights.

Planes undergo fuselage stress tests before being allowed to fly. Because fatigue and use contribute to cracks in the fuselage, planes are also required to undergo maintenance and scheduled tests to prevent something like this from happening.

“All airplanes are subject to metal fatigue,” Snorri Gudmundsson, an assistant aerospace engineering professor, told Scientific American in 2011. “The only way to catch it is by proper maintenance procedures. … It only becomes a problem if the maintenance is inadequate.”

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