American Eagle Pilot's Urgent Call for Help Heard in Newly Released Recording

No passengers were injured after smoke was reported in the cockpit of American Eagle Flight 3400

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC5 Investigates has obtained new audio recordings from American Eagle Flight 3400. Shortly after takeoff from DFW Airport on March 5th, smoke filled the cockpit forcing the crew to make an emergency landing at Majors Airport in Greenville, an airport which does not typically handle commercial flights. The new audio recordings and an exclusive interview with one of the air traffic controllers who handled the flight illustrate what the pilots were going through. (Published Friday, Apr 11, 2014)

    NBC 5 Investigates is taking a closer look at a dramatic emergency landing that took place in North Texas last month.

    On the night of March 5, American Eagle Flight 3400 departed Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport for Quad City International Airport in Moline, Ill.  Not long after takeoff the pilots of the Embraer-145 declared an emergency after smelling smoke in the cockpit.

     "Eagle flight 3400 declaring an emergency. We've got a smelling of electrical burn," one of the pilots can be heard saying in the recording.

    Air Traffic Controller David Cully said controllers at Fort Worth Center first redirected the pilot to Tyler but that within minutes the pilot said she didn't think they'd make it that far and they were redirected again to Greenville's Majors Field.

    "You could tell the tone of her voice there was a little more urgency," Cully said.

    Majors Field has long runways capable of accepting commercial airliners, but there are no controllers in the tower at night.

    "We're going to need as much help as possible, Eagle 3400," the pilot said.

    Cully said after hearing that, controllers thought there may be a little more going on than they thought.

    With smoke building, the pilots descended 13,000 feet in just four minutes -- about twice as fast as normal.

    As the plane drew closer to the runway the radio fell silent.  Controllers at Fort Worth Center then took the unusual step of rerouting another aircraft over Majors Field to visually confirm the safe landing of American Eagle Flight 3400.

    Once the pilots had the plane safely on the ground, the crew began getting the passengers off of the aircraft as quickly as possible.

    "The flight attendant started saying get out of the aircraft immediately, so I thought what if something bursts up in flames," said Tiffany Liou, passenger.

    In the end, all of the passengers were able to exit the plane without any injuries -- thanks to controllers and the pilots working together and fast.

    "She did a phenomenal job a really good job she stayed calm and very professional and did what she needed to do," said Cully.

    In addition to the radio communication with the pilots, controllers at Fort Worth Center also called the local sheriff's department to get fire trucks and emergency personnel to Majors Field just in case.

    Thursday night, American Eagle issued a statement saying the following: "Our crew members demonstrated their professionalism the evening of March 5, following appropriate procedures and ensuring the safety of all passengers on Flight 3400.

    In the end, it was a malfunctioning fan that caused the smoke.