A transcript has been released of a jaw-dropping conversation between two pilots on an American Airlines plane they feared almost fell off on takeoff.
On April 10, 2019, the Airbus A321T – carrying 101 passengers and eight cabin crew members – was involved in the near miss departing JFK Airport in New York.
The plane was found so badly damaged that it was scrapped to be used for parts.
Three years later, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators released their final report on the AA300 flight, revealing the impressive conversation between the captain and his first officer.
According to the report, the plane “rolled” to the left during takeoff amid a 14-17 knot crosswind, with its left wing hitting a runway signal and then the ground, as a result of “excessive” use. from the left rudder by the pedal captain.
The incident, which happened around 8:40 pm local time, was so serious that the pilots – both 58 years old and highly experienced – feared the plane would capsize.
It was only when the captain said “I can’t control it” that the first officer intervened, applying more power to the aileron, at the tip of the right wing, and more back pressure to stabilize the aircraft.
Among other quotes from the profanity-filled transcript, the first officer told the captain: “That scared the shit out of me. I thought we were gone.”
The captain replied, “The fucking plane just rolled on top of me, man.”
The captain then complains about the crosswind, saying, “****** I hate flying this thing in any kind of crosswind.
“Fuck me, I’m going to take some time off after this shit… holy shit, I’m not going to work tomorrow.”
A flight attendant calls the pair to find out what happened, and the captain complains that the Airbus onboard computer systems are too complicated to fully understand.
He said: “**** Airbus guy. This is the kind of shit we don’t like. You know, there are so many computers that we don’t know, we don’t know what it does sometimes.”
Then the pilots discussed among themselves whether to return to JFK airport or continue towards Los Angeles.
As the plane climbed to 20,000 feet, the pilots informed air traffic controllers of their plan to make the 15-minute trip back to JFK.
It seems their decision was made in part because of “politics” and to avoid further trouble for them.
The first officer said: “I’m just thinking with this kind of extreme maneuvering, you know just, by the politics of it all, it might not be a bad idea to go back, because, these girls (flight attendants) will never fly with us again, I’m telling you.” .
“I mean, it scared me so much, I’ve never been so scared on a plane, I don’t think. I mean, I wasn’t that scared because like, but I thought it was over. I thought we were going to fall.”
The first officer later says, “Or maybe call maintenance to cover your ass. And tell them what happened and see what they – or just, I don’t know.”
The captain says, “You know, I think you’re right.”
The first officer says, “I think you have to cover your ass with this.”
A little later in the conversation, the captain says he wants maintenance crews to “take all the shit out and see what happened.”
When calling air traffic controllers, the commander says he doesn’t want to declare an emergency “while the plane is flying.”
The flight attendant tells the pilots that several passengers were worried about what had just happened.
According to the transcript, they say, “A guy just got here and wanted to know what the fuck that was.
“[He] flew two hundred million miles and he said, ‘I’ve never felt anything like this’ and I didn’t say anything to him because that’s up to you.”
The captain then addressed the passengers on the tannoy, but blamed the incident on the computers.
He said they had “a problem with the plane involving the flight control computers” and that they would return to JFK to “let the maintenance people take control”.
There was “no cause for alarm”, as the “defective system [had been] isolated,” he also told passengers.
There were no injuries in the incident, but JFK ground staff said the plane’s left wing had “severe damage”.
The last words of the transcript show that a member of the ground crew told the pilots, “I’m glad you’re all right.”
The report found that “excessive input of the captain’s left rudder pedal during takeoff from the ground, which caused a large deviation of course and a left turn in rotation which resulted in the left wingtip hitting the ground.”
He found the probable cause of the incident to be pilot error.
The captain logged nearly 20,000 flight hours, with around 3,000 hours on the Airbus A320 family of aircraft.
The first officer logged 15,500 flight hours, with around 2,000 hours in the Airbus A320 group.
The Independent contacted American Airlines for comment.