FAA Probes Why De-icing Trucks Hit 2 Jets

The Federal Aviation Administration has launched an investigation into why two trucks hit two commercial jets in separate incidents at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

The trucks were spraying chemicals on the planes last weekend to remove ice and snow at the airport's de-icing pad before takeoff.

No injuries were reported, but both planes, bound for Chicago, returned to the terminal and were taken out of service.

Here's what happened in Saturday's accident with a Southwest Airlines 737 jet, according to a preliminary report posted on the FAA's Web site and a Southwest spokeswoman:

A de-icing truck hit the jet's horizontal stabilizer, the small, winglike structure at the back of the fuselage that keeps a plane flying straight. The truck became wedged underneath the stabilizer.

After the truck was removed, the jet taxied back to the terminal and unloaded its 51 passengers. They reboarded another Southwest flight to Chicago's Midway International Airport and arrived two hours late.

The report did not make clear the extent of the damage, but the plane remained out of service Wednesday.

"It's obviously a very serious thing when an aircraft is bumped and has to be taken out of service," Southwest spokeswoman Marilee McInnis said.

In Sunday's accident, another de-icing truck struck the tip of the right wing of a 50-seat American Eagle jet bound for Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, according to an airline spokeswoman.

The plane returned to the gate and the 45 passengers got off and boarded a Continental flight to O'Hare.

The plane was repaired and back in service Sunday evening, said American Eagle spokeswoman Andrea Huguely.

No one from the company that operates the de-icing trucks, Aeromag Contego, could be reached Wednesday. A spokeswoman from Hopkins said she could not provide any information during an FAA investigation.

Hopkins began using its new de-icing system last fall.

During a December snowstorm, flights were delayed for hours because planes waited in long lines for trucks to clear ice and snow from their wings at the de-icing pad near the runway.

Airport officials blamed communication and logistical problems for the delays.

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