Smoke in the cockpit forces a Monday night flight to turn back to Atlanta.
Heavy rain causes a plane to skid on a wet runway.
And an ex-president gets airsick en route to Cleveland.
It’s been a long week for Delta Air Lines.
Or has it?
“On any given day there are a number of anomalies that can impact flights,” Anthony Black, a spokesman for the Atlanta-based airline told the AJC.
A Delta flight from Philadelphia made an emergency landing at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport around 5 p.m. Wednesday because the wing flaps wouldn’t close.
“It landed with its flaps in the ‘up’ position, so as a precaution, they declared an emergency,” Black said.
That’s just one of the issues, which include mechanical troubles, medical emergencies or stormy weather, that could cause a plane to make an emergency landing or divert to another airport, officials say.
Black ticked off a list from this week that included a medical emergency: Former President Jimmy Carter getting airsick on a Delta flight Tuesday, and bad weather: Heavy rain in Savannah contributed to a Delta plane skidding on the runway, past the point it could taxi back to the airport on its own.
“At Delta, passenger safety is our crew’s top priority, and these trained professionals are prepared to quickly respond to events that occur on board the aircraft,” Black said.
That aircraft includes Delta’s connection-carriers, such as Atlantic Southeast Airlines. Carter was flying on one of those. Delta and its connection partners such as ASA operate more than 6,000 flights a day, or more than 2.1 million flights a year.
ASA was also operating the plane that made an emergency landing at John F. Kennedy Airport Sept. 25.
The landing, while dramatic, also caught the nation’s attention because video and audio tape of a flight attendant repeating the words “heads down, stay down,” was broadcast nationwide for days.
“Every air craft that declares an emergency – the emergency is thoroughly investigated by the airline and the FAA,” Lynn Lunsford, a spokesman with the Federal Aviation Administration told the AJC. “We’re constantly looking at things that go wrong and trying to see if it points to a larger trend.”
Smoke in the cabin caused a Houston-bound Delta flight to return to Atlanta Monday night. A bird had been sucked into the plane’s exhaust system, Black said.
That almost makes the situation somewhat light-hearted, but not everyone found it funny.
One passenger contacted the AJC after a story appeared online Monday night.
“It was just unbelievably frightening,” passenger Lynne McBride told the AJC. McBride said the flight was already delayed because of heavy rain. Almost immediately after McBride said she felt the wheels close up, she began to smell smoke.
She said the plane’s crew members began filling the aisle, and the captain announced over the loudspeaker that he was aware of the problem. Within 10 minutes, the plane turned around and headed back to Hartsfield.
For McBride, those 10 minutes felt like an eternity, she told the AJC.
But her eternity was all in a day's work for the Delta crew.