An American Eagle Embraer 175 safely returned to Atlanta after encountering severe flight control issues during takeoff. The situation is eerily similar to an Air Astana Embraer 190 incident that occurred just under a year ago.
On November 6, 2019, AA4439 departed Atlanta (ATL) for New York LaGuardia (LGA) on-time at 9:04PM. It was operated by Republic Airways on behalf of American Airlines utilizing an E175 aircraft. During takeoff, pilots encountered a trim runaway incident and immediately declared emergency. Runaway trim occurs when the Trimmable Horizontal Stabilizer (THS) on the aircraft tail fails to stop at the desired position and continues to deflect up or down.
The aircraft climbed to 14,000 as it awaited clearance to return to ATL. But when granted, pilots reported they were close to a stall and could not lower pitch (the nose of the plane).
After fighting the aircraft to turn it and initiate descent, the problems seemed to abate and the plane landed without incident. It remains out of service as both American Airlines and federal investigators try to better understand what happened.
American Airlines told me:
On Nov. 6, American Eagle flight 4439, operated by Republic Airways, took off from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) at 9:05 p.m. ET. Flight 4439 was en route to New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA).
Due to a mechanical issue, the pilots of the Embraer E-175 returned to ATL, safely landing at 9:25 p.m. ET and taxiing to the gate. The flight had six passengers and was operated by a crew of four. Passengers were rebooked on flights that same evening to New York.
We never want to disrupt our customers’ travel plans, and we are sorry for the trouble this caused Wednesday evening. You will need to contact Republic Airways for any additional details, if available
Just Like Air Astana…
The incident is very similar to what happened onboard an Air Astana E190 last November (2018). That incident occurred on a ferry flight from Lisbon (LIS) to Almaty (ALA). In that case, pilots lost control to such a great extent that they were prepared to ditch the aircraft. Eventually, the regained manual control…but were minutes away from bailing.
Embraer 190, callsign KС 1388, conducted a ferry flight from the Lisbon Aviation Technical Centre when, due to technical reasons the crew decided to perform an unplanned landing. At 15.26 UTC the aircraft safety landed at the airport of Beja. There were no passengers on board.
— Air Astana (@airastana) November 11, 2018
It is too early to link the two incidents, though the common factors give great pause. Thankfully, no lives were lost in either incident. But with public opinion still largely untrusting of the 737 MAX, don’t be surprised to see skepticism surrounding Embraer regional jets as well.