Keeping calm in an emergency situation is much easier said than done, but a new video recounting an averted air disaster in Toronto is garnering praise for the air traffic controllers’ and pilot’s expertise and calm demeanors during the terrifying ordeal.
YouTube channel You can see ATC, which showcases non-standard, emergency, and otherwise interesting situations in-flight, uploaded a video detailing the chain of events leading up to the emergency landing, which occurred just over 2 weeks ago at Toronto Pearson International Airport.
On June 21, a FedDex Express MD-11 airplane departing Toronto en-route to Memphis International Airport, reported an engine issue just after take-off and requested to return.
According to the pilot, the number one engine thrust reverser, which is used to decelerate an aircraft after landing, had inadvertently engaged. Several users in the comments compare this to driving with a blown tire and the brakes locked on one side.
The air traffic controller (ATC) can be heard calmly instructing the pilot to take a left turn and return to the airport.
“If you need to return to the airport immediately, you can have whatever runway you want, sir,” he says.
Several minutes go by before the ATC checks in again, and the pilot confirms things are stable but they do need to finish a few more procedures and return to Toronto.
The ATC confirms with the pilot that the plane is set up to land on runway 5, but the crew then requests for another delay vector as they are not ready for the approach.
“You just take your time, 240 on the heading. Let me know, we’ll give you as much delay as you need,” the ATC tells the pilot.
You then see the airplane turn away from the airport, as the pilot confirms there are two souls on board. When deemed safe, the plane finally makes its left turn back towards Pearson.
The air traffic controller helps navigate the plane for a safe landing on the runway, where emergency vehicles are waiting.
The aircraft remained grounded at Toronto for at least 3 days after landing, signalling the failure of the safety devices designed to prevent prevent accidental deployment of thrust reversers.
Such malfunction has proven fatal at least once in the past, as in the case of Austrian carrier Lauda Air Flight 004 in May 1991. In this tragic accident, the deployed thrust reverser took a quarter of the lift from the plane’s left wing and rendered it useless due to the plume of reversed air.
Subsequently, the aircraft entered an aerodynamic stall, then dipped into an uncontrolled dive before breaking apart midair and killing all 213 passengers and 10 crew members on board.
The video was flooded with comments applauding the air traffic controller’s professionalism in such a dire situation. Just last month, there was another similar harrowing incident in our skies, with Air Canada declaring mayday.
Events like these just go to show how much responsibility our pilots and air traffic controllers take on to keep passengers and flight crews safe during air travel.