Last night we got another reminder of how things don’t always go as planned when a plane begins a journey. A United Airlines 757 departing from Newark bound for Berlin, Germany blew a tire on departure. Debris from that tire flew into the engine and caused some problems. And, for the most part, it sounds like everything was just another day at the office for the pilots and ATC folks. Thanks to LiveATC.net I listened to the communications this morning and, while they certainly sound attentive and concerned, there is nothing resembling panic in the sequence. Just like you’d expect.
The conversation spans about 11 minutes (actually much longer while they’re circling, but this was the meat of if) and covers two different frequencies as they actually take off and then switch to the departures controller as they get off the ground. I edited down the feeds and combined the two into a single audio stream here.
I’ve transcribed the conversation, too. At least this is what I think they’re saying.
Tower: United 96, Contact New York Departure. So long, y’all.
Aircraft: United 96, Uh we blew a tire and <uninteligible> declare an emergency.
Tower: United 96, contact New York departures 119.2 vectors back to the airport.
Switch to 119.2
Aircraft: Departures, United 96, < unintelligible > Declaring an emergency
Tower: United 96, understand you are declaring emergency
Aircraft: We are
Tower: Alright, Climb and maintain 3000 turn left heading 340.
Aircraft: 3000/340, United 96
Tower: United 96 when you are uh able to give me the details let me know how many uh fuel and souls you have
AC: Right back, souls on board 173. 70K in pounds.
T: United 96 Okay, say that again, sir
AC: 69K pounds of fuel, 173 souls on board.
T: Alright, we have
planes reservedflames observed off your left hand you can come to tower sir
T: United 96 say runway request. You blew a tire on 11.
AC: We have an engine failure United 96.
T: Alright, United 96, uh whatever we can do to help you sir we’re going to do it. Just let me know what your intentions are
AC: Alright standby. We’re going to continue this heading and figure it out. Looks like we’ve got two good engines. You said you thought we lost a tire on runway 11.
T: The tower reports you blew an engine on runway 11, affirmative.
AC: That’s what it felt like. Looks like we have two good engines. Standby.
T: Okay, sir.
T: United 96 if you are able to fly heading 260 please fly 260. I’m keeping you in safe airspace
AC: Okay 260, United 96.
About 90 second later
T: United 96, now heading of 200
AC: Heading 200, now United 96. And, uh, looks like we’re going to need runway 4L. I believe we lost a tire on the left side.
T:Alright, runway 4L it is. Let me know when you are ready to start inbound. Do you have a fuel uh… Are you too heavy to land right now sir?
AC: Ah, yeah, we are, yeah.
<background noise of co-pilot calculating max landing weight>
AC: Yeah, right now looking 40,000 fat.
T: Alright, United 96 do you want me to keep you spinning so you can burn off that fuel or you gonna start dumping?
AC: Well, we can’t dump on this airplane.
T: Very good.
T: Are you stable enough to burn this off in the air, sir?
AC: We are stable enough to fly it around. So we can just tool around out here. That’d be fine
T: Alright You have good indication on you know your left, your left nacelle, right? Everything’s working on both your engines?
AC: Yeah, everything looks good. What we did see was an over temp on that engine, with a chunking, banging and vibration off that left side.
T: OK, United 96, um, are you going to be able to climb to 4000 for me so I can keep you in some good airspace.
AC: Yeah, we can climb to 4000, United 96.
T: United 96, thank you. Climb and maintain 4000. Speed is your discretion. I’m going to keep you spinning so you can burn off that fuel.
AC: Ok, climbing to 4000 and that’d be great.
T: Alright, thanks a lot, sir.
Just another day at the office, as you’d expect from professional pilots.