Pilot Reacted Quickly to Hole in Roof: Tape

Wednesday, Jul 6, 2011  |  Updated 3:21 PM CDT
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Pilot Reacted Quickly to Hole in Roof: Tape

AP

Photo provided by passenger shows the hole in the cabin on a Southwest Airlines aircraft, Yuma, Arizona.

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Air traffic control recordings reveal the tense early minutes after the roof ripped open on a Southwest Airlines jet flying over western Arizona in April.

Flight 812's pilot quickly declared an emergency and put his jetliner in a descent when its fuselage ruptured at more than 34,000 feet on April 1. He didn't wait for air traffic controllers to approve the move.

The recording was released by the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday. It showed controllers scrambled to make sure there were no other planes in the path of the Boeing 737 as the pilot made the harrowing, four-minute descent.

After he reached 10,000 feet, the pilot rejected Phoenix and Palm Springs, instead choosing the airport in Yuma, Ariz., just 50 miles to the south.

 

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