Plane Makes An Emergency Landing At JFK, Brakes Catch Fire UPDATE

An Aer Lingus passenger plane made an emergency landing at Kennedy Airport Monday evening after reporting hydraulic failure. The landing gear reportedly ignited into a fire, but all passengers are said to be safe.

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The plane, a Boeing 757, took off for Shannon, Ireland around 7 p.m. Monday night and immediately reported hydraulic failure, including issues with the landing gear door and unresponsive flaps. It turned around and prepared for an emergency landing at JFK.

Having just taken off, the excess weight of the fuel on the plane may have put additional strain on the landing gear in addition to the possibility of the hydraulic brake line malfunctioning, causing the landing gear to ignite into a fire which was subsequently extinguished by emergencies responders.

All passengers are reported to be safe with no injuries, and were bussed back to the terminal by Port Authority.

We’ll keep you updated.

10:10 PM:

Post updated for clarity.

6:00 AM:

The pilot, Captain Paul Dowling, reportedly told Air Traffic Control “We do have technical issues here - we lost our hydraulic system, one hydraulic system so we are going to have to return to Kennedy at some stage, not quite yet. I would like you to inform Kennedy that we have lost hydraulic fluid and it may be dumped on the runway; we’re not sure.

The airline arranged for all 110 passengers to take a different plane, which left at about 10 PM.

DISCUSSION

I’ve got about 8000 hours on 757s. If you’re down to the point of having to use the alternate gear extension and flap extension (both electric), something has gone horribly wrong with the hydraulics.

757 brakes are bloody superb. Superb. I’ve rejected a few take-offs and there’s not really any messing about with brake temperatures on them, unlike the French rivals. By the time you’ve taxied back to the threshold they’re good to go in most circumstances.

A brake fire suggests to me that hydraulic fluid got onto hot brakes which is the usual cause of brake fires - often caused by brakes ermm breaking up. (Quick double check to make sure I spelled that correctly!).

Generally, though, if you lose a brake line, that’s one hydraulic system. You have two left, so it will be interesting to see what happened when the report comes out. The brakes themselves have two redundancy modes.

Also, unsure why a hydraulic failure would cause a landing to be carried out at a higher speed than normal. This has to be media mis-reporting and was just a case of a higher-speed, overweight landing. Done that four or five times and it was a total non-event; never set fire to the brakes or even spilled a passenger’s glass of wine doing it!

(Quick comment on language here - the original tweet says ‘sparking a brake fire. In the UK and Ireland, this often means ‘causing’, not literal sparking, so it’s been re-interpreted, I suspect, by American authors who might not use this term.)