The autopilot on a Delta Air Lines flight from Prague, Czech Republic, to New York JFK frequently disconnected, causing the pilots to declare an emergency and almost diverting to Gander International Airport in Newfoundland. This incident is currently being investigated.
Although no conclusions have been reached regarding what caused the flying controls on the 30-year-old Boeing 767 aircraft to stop functioning properly, it is possible that the pilots’ difficulties may have been exacerbated by flooding cabin lavatories.
The AV Herald stated that when the flight attendants discovered the mid-cabin restrooms were beginning to overflow, the plane had just passed the southernmost point of Greenland on its way to New York JFK.
The autopilot unexpectedly disconnected, and the airplane reportedly “began to drift to the right” with some toilets currently unusable.
According to the AV Herald story, the aircraft in question had three autopilot systems, but the pilots were unable to activate any of them without also disconnecting themselves shortly after.
The right-hand drift was proving to be challenging, so the pilots declared an emergency while speaking with an engineering team over the phone who tried to diagnose the problem.
After considering a possible diversion to Gander, the pilots adjusted course for a potential diversion to Boston once the flight control systems appeared to be self-correcting. In the end, the pilots were successful in making the landing at New York JFK.
Investigators will continue to investigate into the possibility that the aircraft’s critical electronics and wiring may have been damaged by water from the flooded toilets.
On Friday, the NTSB said that it was looking into the incident. According to the agency, none of the 12 crew members or the 221 passengers were hurt.
In a statement, a Delta spokesperson said: “Nothing is more important than the safety of our customers and people. Delta is fully assisting aviation authorities in the review of flight 211 from Prague to New York-JFK in July of 2022, which landed safely at its destination following a mechanical issue.”