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How Rare Are Emergency Landings?

"I'm sure I was like everybody else ... all I was doing was thinking of my family, my kids." - SkyWest Airlines Flight 5316 passenger Jason Spence

A SkyWest flight with 43 people onboard was forced to make a dramatic emergency landing at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Monday morning. The Bombardier CRJ100 plane departed from Monterey, California at around 7:15 a.m. The flight went exactly as planned until some of the landing gear failed to drop when the plane was approaching LAX.

landing-1443370-m.jpgAuthorities say the pilots performed an emergency belly landing in which the plane skidded along the runway with smoke and sparks emitted from the left side of the aircraft. Once the plane finally came to a stop, everyone on the plane started applauding the pilots and exited the aircraft safely. According to ABC News, no one was injured in the landing, and no fire was started.

Passengers were told to assume a crash position as the plane was about to touch down. Some passengers were distressed but according to passenger Traci Reid, the pilots did a great job of landing the plane smoothly and safely.

The incident at LAX got many wondering...how often do commercial airline flights have to make emergency landings? According to John Cox, a retired airline captain that flew for US Airways, emergency landings happen more than many of us would like to think. In 45+ years of aviation, Cox says he made between 10 and 15 emergency landings (in case you're wondering, no one was injured and no damage was reported to any of the aircraft in the emergency landings Cox had to perform).

The passengers aboard the SkyWest flight were lucky that no one was injured and most remained calm during the ordeal. In many cases, emergency landings can be harrowing experiences for passengers. The emotional distress that accompanies such a traumatic event can keep people from ever setting foot in another airplane.

Some passengers sustain physical injuries in emergency landings. In a recent JetBlue emergency landing at Long Beach Airport, several passengers were hospitalized after inhaling smoke that filled the cabin. In the wake of that incident, nearly 20 passengers hired the aviation law firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman to represent them in claims against JetBlue.

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