A Republic Airways Embraer E170 operating a flight on behalf of Delta Air Lines lost both bleed valves on the weekend. The flight from New York’s La Guardia Airport to Nashville was climbing out of La Guardia on Saturday, November 21, 2020, when the incident occurred. After an emergency descent, the aircraft diverted safely to Philadelphia.
The incident was reported in The Aviation Herald. The aircraft involved was N873RW. It was operating DL5646 on behalf of Delta under the Delta Connection brand. DL5646 is the daily 15:10 departure from La Guardia.
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Loss of bleed valves forces emergency descent
According to The Aviation Herald, DL5646 was climbing through FL250 when the aircraft lost the bleed valves. That forced the plane to descend to 10,000 feet owing to cabin pressure loss. There were no reported injuries, and the aircraft landed safely at Philadelphia.
A bleed valve helps manage the flow of medium and high-pressure air that bleeds from either the compressor section of the aircraft engines or the auxiliary power unit. Traditionally, that bled air helped with operating and managing cabin pressure, engine starts, air conditioning, wing and engine anti-icing systems, water system pressurization, and hydraulic system reservoir pressurization.
However, the use of bled air across various aircraft functions in modern aircraft is declining. Functions such as air conditioning and wing anti-ice systems, traditionally powered by bled air, are now more frequently electrically powered.
One of the big advantages of relying on electrical power against bled air is reliability.
The aircraft involved in Saturday’s incident is 14 years old. The plane has operated for various United States carriers and was painted in Delta’s livery in early 2017.
On the Embraer E170, bled air from the air conditioning system is used to pressurize the airplane. That cabin pressure is managed by modulating the bleed valves. On Saturday’s flight, the bleed valve incident saw the aircraft make an emergency descent to 10,000 feet to overcome cabin pressure issues.
Republic Airways flies under various brands for the big United States airlines
While the Delta Connection brand has existed since 1984, they began doing business with Republic Airways in 2004, with the first flight operating the following year.
The Indiana-based Republic Airways operates a fleet of Embraer E170 and E175 jets for various United States airlines, including Delta. Republic Airways primarily operates a variety of short and medium-haul flights. The airline presently has contracts to operate flights under the Delta Connection, American Eagle, and United Express brands.
Republic Airways says it is one of the largest regional airlines in the United States. Republic operates a fleet of nearly 200 Embraer E170 and E175 aircraft and offers scheduled passenger service with about 1,000 daily flights to 100 cities in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, and Central America. The airline provides fixed-fee flights operated under its codeshare partners’ brands, including American Eagle, Delta Connection, and United Express.
After diverting to Philadelphia, another aircraft operated the flight to Nashville, the passengers arriving several hours late. The aircraft involved in the incident, N873RW, stayed on the ground until late morning the following day. On Sunday, N873RW operated a passenger service to Detroit and has since resumed normal flying without further incident.