UPS Boeing 757 Returns To Louisville After Losing Some Hydraulics

On December 28th, a UPS Boeing 757 experienced a hydraulic failure while climbing out of Louisville International Muhammad Ali Airport (SDF), forcing the crew to declare an emergency and return to the airport. The failure resulted in the pilots having to manually drop the landing gear. Without the ability to steer the nose of the aircraft, the high-speed turn-off was used to exit the runway.

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The specific 757 involved in the incident was just over 23 years old. Photo: kskuebler via Wikimedia Commons 

Incident details

The incident took place on December 28th, just after the UPS 757’s take-off from Louisville airport at 01:14, bound for San Juan (Puerto Rico) as flight 5X342. However, just minutes after taking off, the crew encountered an issue with the aircraft.

According to The Aviation Herald, at 5,000 feet, the crew requested to level off in order to run checklists, after which they indicated a return to Louisville was required. An emergency was then declared as a precaution, and the aircraft circled around to approach runway 17R.

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A look at the speed and altitude graph of the flight. The crew requested a hold at 5,000 feet just a few minutes after take-off. Photo: FlightRadar24.com 
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The 757 discontinued its journey and circled around, returning to Louisville airport. Photo: FlightRadar24.com 

The crew also advised air traffic control that they would need to do everything manually, later explaining that they had lost the left hydraulic system. Manual operation included dropping the landing gear.

The crew then advised the tower that they had no nose wheel steering, and would use the high-speed turn off to exit the runway, after which a tow would be required. It was also advised that if the high-speed turn off was unsuccessful, a tow off of the runway would be required.

However, the attempt was indeed successful as the aircraft landed safely on runway 17R, vacating the runway via the high-speed turn-off.

At the time of writing, just over 24 hours after the incident, the aircraft remains on the ground at Louisville airport.

About the incident aircraft

The incident aircraft was a Boeing 757-200, registered as N468UP. According to data from Planespotters.net, the aircraft is just over 23 years old and has flown with UPS for its entire service life to date, having joined the fleet in 1997. The aircraft is powered by two Rolls-Royce engines.

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UPS has 75 757s in its fleet. 69 of which are listed as active. Photo: Bene Riobó via Wikimedia Commons 

A similar UPS incident in October

Interestingly, a fairly similar incident happened with another UPS aircraft, coincidentally also at Louisville airport. On October 15th, a UPS Airbus A300 experienced hydraulic issues and had to make a dramatic landing.

Similar to this recent December 28th incident, the crew informed the tower that the landing gear had to be manually dropped and that no steering would be available upon landing.

Due to the aircraft’s hydraulic issues in this case, the brakes, once deployed, locked up and caused several tires to explode on the runway, spreading torn rubber around the airfield.

Simple Flying reached out to UPS for an official statement. However, at the time of publication, no response was received. 

What are your thoughts on the incident? Let us know what you think in the comment section.

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