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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 12:24 p.m., Tuesday, January 6, 2004

Jetliner bound for Texas lands on Midway

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Staff Writer

A Continental Airlines jet with 294 people on board made an emergency landing at Midway Atoll's Sand Island airfield early today, apparently after suffering an oil pressure problem in one of its engines.

There were no injuries. The airline was expected to fly maintenance personnel and parts to the island today, and hoped to fly out after dark.

Daytime jet operations at the atoll are considered dangerous because of the threat that an engine could be disabled if it sucked in one of the hundreds of thousands of seabirds that nest on the island.

"The passengers were deplaned, and they can be entertained by a million and a half seabirds," said Barbara Maxfield, speaking for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which operates the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.

She said there have been no medical problems among the passengers. The service has a physician's assistant on island to help with any medical issues. There is food on the plane, and Midway's own food supplies were replenished a week ago via an Aloha Airlines chartered jet.

The plane, Continental's Flight 6, was en route from Japanâs Narita Airport to Houston's George Bush International Airport. The twin-engine Boeing 777 is a computer-designed and fuel-efficient aircraft that includes configurations that allow extended range flights. The route from Narita to Houston is nearly 7,000 miles and takes 11 hours and 40 minutes, said Julie King, a Continental spokeswoman in Houston.

She said there appeared to have been an oil leak from a starter. Continental planned to fly a maintenance crew of four and a new starter, along with additional food and water supplies, to Midway today. Repairs were expected to take three hours, and the plane was scheduled to leave Midway at about 9 p.m. Hawai'i time, King said.

She said interested passengers were being given a guided tour of the island, which is near the western end of the Hawaiian archipelago and lies more than 1,000 miles northwest of the main Hawaiian Islands.