Republic Airways Embraer E-175 Suffers Control Issues Over Atlanta

An American Airlines branded Embraer E-175 suffered a loss of control over Atlanta airport on Wednesday, with flight crews struggling to regain control of the aircraft. Fortunately, they were able to land the aircraft despite the inability to change its pitch and managed to return their passengers safely to the ground.

American Airlines
American Airlines Embraer E-175. Photo: Nathan Coats via Wikimedia

What are the details?

Flight AA-4439 had just taken off, flown by a Republic Airways Embraer ERJ-175, registration N117HQ, when they encountered a unique issue.

The aircraft was performing AA-4439 from Atlanta to New York La Guardia with only six passengers onboard. At this stage, it is unknown if it was a repositioning flight or just happened to be that empty (the aircraft has a capacity of 80 passengers).

Flight Aware
The flight path of the aircraft. Photo: Flight Aware

According to The Aviation Herald, the aircraft was climbing out of Atlanta’s left 09 runway when the crew declared an emergency, declaring that they had a trim runaway.

For those not in the know, a trim runaway is defined by:

Runaway trim occurs when the Trimmable Horizontal Stabilizer (THS) or other trim devices on the aircraft tail fails to stop at the desired position and continues to deflect up or down. Runaway trim can have several causes, including but not limited to a bad switch, a short circuit, or a software failure.

It is believed in this scenario in Atlanta, the cockpit crew could not control the pitch of the aircraft due to the trim runaway. They stopped their ascent at around 14,000 feet and maneuvered themselves around for an emergency landing on Atlanta’s runway 10.

Trim runaway

Whilst lining up they reported to ATC that their aircraft was stalling and that they could not get the pitch of the aircraft down. However, they decided to continue to decent regardless. According to the reports, ATC cleared three other runways just in case.

The aircraft rose up and down multiple times as the crew struggled to gain control, claiming that they had been ‘fighting’ with the controls. Thankfully, they eventually reported that they had the problem under control and were able to land at runway 10.

The aircraft landed approximately 19 minutes after its initial departure, and 15 minutes after it first notified ATC about the emergency situation. The aircraft was able to taxi off the runway and return to the terminal.

Republic Airways Embraer E-175 Suffers Control Issues Over Atlanta
American Eagle is American Airlines’ regional carrier. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

Since the incident, the aircraft is still situated at Atlanta and undergoing inspections.

American Airlines’ take

Simple Flying reached out to American Airlines for comment on this situation, who told us,

On Nov. 6, American Eagle flight 4439, operated by Republic Airways, took off from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) at 9:05 p.m. ET. Flight 4439 was en route to New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA).

Due to a mechanical issue, the pilots of the Embraer E-175 returned to ATL, safely landing at 9:25 p.m. ET and taxiing to the gate. The flight had six passengers and was operated by a crew of four. Passengers were rebooked on flights that same evening to New York.

We never want to disrupt our customers’ travel plans, and we are sorry for the trouble this caused Wednesday evening. 

American Airlines contracts regional flights to several different contractors, one of which is Republic Airlines. In an interesting piece of trivia, it actually operates flights for both United (United Express), American Airlines (American Eagle) and Delta (under their Delta Connect banner) with a fleet of 192 aircraft (Embraer E-170 and Embraer E-175).

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