A JetBlue flight from Las Vegas to New York Sunday, developed mechanical failure that sent the plane careening wildly in the skies for four hours. The 155 people on board the flight panicked as the A320 lurched from side to side and took steep turns.
According to the The New York Post, Travis McGhie, a passenger, said the plane lurched from side to side, took steep turns after its hydraulic system failed. McGhie said: "It was four hours of hell."
The New York Post reports that one of the pilots declared an emergency and radioed Las Vegas controllers, saying: "[We are dealing with] quite a few things, but the initial thing is... we’ve lost two hydraulic systems."
Daily Mail reports that the plane was carrying fuel for a five hours' flight. But because the A320 is incapable of dumping fuel the plane had to circle in the skies in an area south of the Vegas Strip till the engines had burned enough fuel to allow for safe landing. According to The New York Post, some passengers "got a little freaked," and a few were vomiting.
Fox News reports that John Ware, a passenger on the flight, said the experience was the scariest of his life. He said he heard the pilot screaming during the landing "Brace! Brace! Brace!"
Ware said he turned to his wife and said to her, "I will love you forever."
Daily Mail reports that another passenger Tom Mizer, told The New York Post, "People were getting sick. Some people were throwing up. There were a lot of people getting nauseous."
Some of the passengers said that the crew members of Flight 94 did everything they could to prevent panic. One attendant walked down the aisles trying to calm people down. She made heroic efforts to reassure the passengers, saying, "Look at me, I'm smiling. If I was scared, you would know it. If I'm not scared, you don't need to be."'
Daily Mail reports that McGhie said there was no screaming but "there were definitely people reacting out loud." He said: "The plane kind of felt out of control. It wasn't able to balance itself, and the air was choppy."
McGhie and Mizier said they realized that the plane had a fault soon after it took off from Las Vegas airport. Tom Mizer said, "You could hear a screeching - an obvious mechanical screeching. We were bouncing around a lot." He added: "People on board got a little freaked. People were upset. Nobody was crazy, but everyone was upset. It became a long, sort of very tense waiting game."
According to the Daily Mail, the plane returned to and landed at Las Vegas' McCarran Airport at 7.37 p.m. It had to be towed to the gate because the front wheels had stopped working.
Another plane was found to take the passengers to JFK.
Fox News reports that an Airbus manual said a double hydraulic failure was "improbable in operation." Airbus has enough backup systems that ensure that passengers are not in serious danger. An expert said: "Even if everything failed, there would have been a way to manually land the aircraft."
Daily Mail reports that David Learmount, operations and safety editor of Flightglobal website, said: "It sounds as if the auto-pilot tripped out which puts flying completely in the pilots' hands. If there is also natural turbulence at the same time, it doesn't help with regards to making passengers nervous. The hydraulic system can stop working because of the failure of a hydraulic pump or a leakage of fluid.The pilots would have been warned if this had happened and it can happen very suddenly."
According to Learmount, it is normal for pilots to keep a plane in the air and use up some of the fuel to allow for safe landing. He said: "This is standard procedure on all planes, no matter what the emergency."
According to Fox News, JetBlue confirmed the incident and the FAA is investigating. JetBlue said in a statement: "JetBlue takes all incidences seriously, and the safety of our customers and crew members is our No. 1 priority.The actions the crew took in response to this event truly represent who we are and our core value - safety."