Airline President Praises Waterloo First Responders

March 14, 2022
The president of a charter airline is praising Waterloo first responders after one of the company's jets slid off a runway at Waterloo Regional Airport on March 5.

Mar. 12—WATERLOO — The president of a charter airline is praising Waterloo first responders after one of the company's jets slid off a runway at Waterloo Regional Airport on March 5.

None of the 88 passengers onboard was injured. The incident occurred during the scheduled landing of a Boeing 737-800 at 6:07 p.m.

"The safety and welfare of our passengers and crew has been our top priority. Thanks to the incredible support of the first-responders, Waterloo Airport and local agencies, all our passengers were able to carry on safely to their destination and have since returned home," says Jeff Conry, President, iAero Airways, said in a press release. "All of us at iAero Airways deeply appreciate the assistance we have received from the local community. We are now working with the NTSB, local and regulatory authorities to fully investigate the incident."

iAero Airways is the largest charter airline in the United States. The company is based in Greensboro, N.C., and Miami, Fla., and was originally founded in 1997 as Swift Air. In 2019, Swift Air was acquired by iAero Group and rebranded as iAero Airways. Swift Airways provides charter flights from Waterloo to Laughlin/ Bullhead City, Ariz. Caesars Entertainment operates two casinos in that area, 90 miles south of Las Vegas.

A storm system that included heavy rain was passing through the Cedar Valley at the time of the incident, which slowed down efforts to rescue the stranded passengers.

Waterloo Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Ben Petersen said 10 firefighters in four units responded to the incident over three hours.

"It had landed and it continued and slid off of runway 36," he said of the plane. "It was probably 500 to 1,000 feet off the runway, so off the pavement.

According to the airport's website, 18/36 is its shorter, secondary runway at 6,003 feet long and 150 feet wide.

Regarding the storm, Petersen said, "I'm sure it played a role" in the incident. "I can't say it caused it." However, "weather and the condition of the ground played a factor for us."

He noted that the ground was saturated from torrential rains, which hampered efforts to quickly rescue passengers. Firefighters used airport maintenance roads to reach the airplane.

"We had to work with airport maintenance to transport a portable stairwell to the crash site," said Petersen. Once people got off the plane, they were loaded onto school buses and driven to the terminal.

The plane came from Dane County Regional Airport in Madison, Wis.


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