An Air Astana E190 had a close call yesterday when pilots lost control during a flight post maintenance. The situation got so severe that the crew were preparing to ditch the aircraft over the ocean, however, thankfully control was regained and the Embraer E190 was safely landed at a Portuguese air force base after fighter jets were dispatched to aid the aircraft.
The Air Astana aircraft departed from Lisbon. Following maintenance which included a C-Check, the aircraft was due to be ferried back to the operator. As such, no passengers were onboard the aircraft, however, there were three pilots and three engineers on board. Initially, At around 13:30, the aircraft declared a Mayday emergency. The pilots were given instructions to descend to 2,500ft. The crew responded “Negative”.
ADS-B data shows that at one point the aircraft lost around 10,000ft of altitude in the space of 50 seconds. The pilots had asked air traffic controllers for vectors to the ocean to ditch the aircraft, however, as this was 41nmi away, the controller gave directions to a river. Thankfully, a second miracle on the Hudson was averted when the pilots managed to regain manual control of the aircraft. Finally, the aircraft flew for around another 30 minutes escorted by F16 fighter jets from the Portuguese Air Force. It then took the aircraft 3 attempts to land at Beja, an Air Force Base. Beja is located around 125km away from Lisbon.
Thankfully a disaster was averted in this incident after the crew regained control. The aircraft had made a series of erratic turns, in some cases changing direction by around 180 degrees. Air Astana’s E190 has now been grounded until Embraer, Air Astana, and Authorities are certain the cause of the erratic flight profile has been discovered and rectified.
Embraer has sent representatives to assist with the investigation into the incident. The authority responsible for air accident investigation in Portugal (GPIAAF) has opened an investigation into the incident. They will publish an initial report with the immediate facts of the incident tomorrow (November 13th). They have already identified the aircraft. The E190 is registered as P4-KCJ. Data from airfleets.net shows that the aircraft was delivered to Air Astana in December of 2013. Consequently, the aircraft is nearing its 5th birthday. In addition to the three Embraer specialists, Air Astana has dispatched 2 pilots and 2 flight engineers to the scene to aid investigators.
As with any recent incident, this is a developing story. More information is expected from GPIAAF tomorrow. What do you think could have caused the incident? Let us know in the comments below!