A plane heading from Newark to Bradley Airport made an emergency landing after a small fire broke out in the cockpit on Friday afternoon, according to state police.
CommutAir Flight 4776, operating as United Express, had taken off from Newark, New Jersey with 36 passengers and three crew members on board.
Shawn Morris, of New Haven, said people onboard started to smell smoke about 10 minutes before landing. The airline reported the fire at about 12:15 p.m. as it approached Windsor Locks.
“We heard that we were going to make an emergency landing, so that’s kind of when the panic started setting in in a lot of people,” Morris said. "They told us what to do. They told us to put our heads down. We made a very smooth landing actually. It worked out OK.”
State police said the plane is a Dash 8 turboprop aircraft and the small fire caused a smoke condition, but everyone got off the aircraft and is safe. The pilots were able to put out the fire.
Passengers and crew were safely evacuated from the plane and "were bussed to the terminal," according to CommutAir.
“We are very thankful for the quick response of our flight crew to ensure the safety of our passengers - the aircraft has been removed from service and will undergo a thorough maintenance evaluation," the airline said in a statement.
Several Connecticut residents, including Adam Loubier, of Hebron, were among the 36 passengers on board, and some did what they could to help.
"I was the first one out the window, so I just was helping people out," he said.
Tasaya Northover, of Waterbury, commended the flight attendants for staying calm and explaining exactly what the passengers needed to do.
"They had to open up the exit doors on the sides of the airplane and we had to kind of jump out the window, but there were two guys at the bottom catching us,” she said.
United Airlines released a statement about what happened.
“At approximately 12:15 p.m. CommutAir flight 4776, operating as United Express, reported a fire in the cockpit while on approach into Hartford. The crew quickly extinguished the fire and landed safely. Passengers and crew safely evacuated the aircraft and were bussed to the terminal,” a statement from United Airlines said.
Officials from the Connecticut Airport Authority said a plane with a mechanical incident landed safely at Bradley and the Airport is open.
“We are very thankful for the quick response of our flight crew to ensure the safety of our passengers - the aircraft has been removed from service and will undergo a thorough maintenance evaluation,” United said in a statement.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the airline are invesigating the incident and and plane is being examined.