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Transportation

Congressman, others safe after Tampa emergency landing

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Published:   |   Updated: April 25, 2014 at 12:08 PM

An American Airlines flight with a U.S. congressman aboard made an emergency landing in Tampa on Thursday night after reports of a smoke smell in the cockpit.

Flight 3454 from Tallahassee to Miami, landed without incident about 9:30 p.m. at Tampa International Airport, an airline spokeswoman said. There were no reported injuries.

The flight had three crew members and 46 passengers, including U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Miami.

“Everyone is OK,” Diaz-Balart tweeted after landing in Tampa. “Big thanks to flt crew + 1st responders.”

The final minutes of the flight provides some uneasy moments for those onboard.

Among them was Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade schools, who told WFOR-TV in Miami that passengers braced for impact by putting their heads between their legs.

“Thankful for a safe, albeit tense, emergency landing in Tampa for AA flight from Tallahassee to Miami, following noise and smoke in cockpit and smell throughout cabin,” Carvalho tweeted. “Eery silence after flight attendant announces ‘you probably noticed the loud noise and smoke ... We are preparing for an emergency landing in Tampa.’ ”

Carvalho also tweeted there was a “loud explosion” onboard, but officials said there was no evidence of that.

Passengers were given a choice of being bused to Miami on Thursday or being put up in a hotel and taking a flight to Miami the next day, the airline said.

The reason for the smoke smell was under investigation, the airline spokeswoman said.

Tampa Fire Rescue was called at 9:10 p.m., while the plane was still in the air, agency spokesman Jason Penny said. Emergency workers were at the gate when the plane arrived.

The plane, an Embraer ERJ 145, was operated under American’s Envoy Air, formerly American Eagle Airlines.

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