The crew of a Republic Airways Embraer ERJ-175 had to fight for their lives after losing control of the aircraft shortly after takeoff from Atlanta Airport. Pilots struggled with the controls and made several attempts at landing.
The dramatic incident unfolded over Atlanta on Wednesday, after American Eagle flight 4439 took off for New York, with six passengers and four crew on board. Just four minutes into the flight, contracted by American Airlines, the crew reported they were experiencing so-called “trim runaway.”
The term refers to an aircraft losing its ability to adjust its horizontal heading, as its trim surfaces begin to deflect out of control. Such issue is usually caused by a software glitch or a technical malfunction.
As the plane’s nose started rising uncontrollably, the pilots stopped the climb and decided to turn back.
“We’re in a stalling situation… We can’t pitch down. We’re trying to descend here,” pilots reportedly told the airport tower controller.
As they headed for the runway, the plane’s nose rose again, bringing the machine into stalling situation, although the crew was trying to descend. Shortly before the touchdown, the plane pitched up even more and the aircraft began gaining altitude, so the crew had to make a turn and try to land again.
After wrestling the malfunctioning aircraft for some 15 minutes, the crew finally was able to bring the plane to the ground in one piece. No one was harmed during the incident, though the plane remained grounded in Atlanta Airport. No information on what exactly caused the aircraft to lose trim control has emerged yet.
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