Charleston Yeager Airport Expertly Uses Social Media During Recent Aircraft Incident

Last Updated Jan 21, 2010 10:56 AM EST

When a US Airways Express (LCC) regional jet overran the runway at Charleston, West Virginia's Yeager Airport this week, it could have been a true disaster. Fortunately, everyone survived what ended up being a relatively minor incident, and Yeager's use of social media helped keep this from blowing completely out of proportion. This should be a case study in how social media can really be an excellent tool for an airport.

At 422p on January 19, a US Airways Express CRJ aborted its takeoff and came to rest at the end of the runway at Yeager Airport. The media tends to jump on these types of things and overhype them before they know all the facts. Yeager sits in a precarious place on top of a mountain so anyone who hears about a runway overrun at the airport might fear for the worst. Yeager didn't let it get that far.

About an hour after the accident, the airport put its first posts on its FlyCRW Facebook account. This was also posted on its @YeagerAirport Twitter account. The message was simple, divided into three separate wall posts.

Yeager Airport (CRW) (Charleston, WV) At approximately 4:22 p.m. this afternoon flight 2495, an outbound flight to Charlotte, North Carolina, aborted take-off and came to a stop in the EMAS (Engineered Material Arresting System) portion of the runway at the end of runway 5.

Yeager Airport (CRW) The 50 passenger aircraft is a Canadair Regional Jet with 30 passengers and 3 crew members on board. There are no reported injuries at this time and the passengers have been transported back to the terminal.

Yeager Airport (CRW) The runway will remain closed until the aircraft can be cleared from the runway. The airport will post updates as they are available on twitter.com/yeagerairport and the Yeager Airport web site at www.yeagerairport.com.

That helps dispel any rumors of airplanes plunging off cliffs or dire injuries or fatalities. They then posted contact information for media people and followed it up with constant updates on the status of things. By 7p, they announced they were working on removing the airplane from the end of the runway so it could open again. Before 10p, they announced that the airplane had been removed and the airport had reopened. They even began posting photos of the incident.

There were a fair number of comments being posted on the Facebook wall posts, and Yeager was quickly and effectively responding to them all. This really was a fantastic effort on their part to get the facts out, show pictures, and just simply keep everyone abreast of what was happening.