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Flooded Toilets Could Have Caused The Autopilot of a Delta Air Flight to New York to Keep On Disconnecting

Flooded Toilets Could Have Caused The Autopilot of a Delta Air Flight to New York to Keep On Disconnecting

Investigators are probing an incident aboard a Delta Air Lines jet from Prague in the Czech Republic to New York JFK in which the autopilot repeatedly disconnected, forcing the pilots to declare an emergency and nearly diverting to Gander International Airport in Newfoundland.

But while the incident occurred back on July 7, 2022, the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) has only now confirmed that it is investigating exactly what happened onboard Delta flight DL-211.

Although no conclusions have been drawn about what caused the flight controls to stop working properly onboard the 30-year-old Boeing 767 aircraft, there is the possibility that flooded lavatories in the cabin could have contributed to the problems faced by the pilots.

According to a report filed by the AV Herald, the aircraft had just reached the southern tip of Greenland en route to New York JFK when flight attendants reported that the toilets in the mid-cabin area had started to flood.

A short time later, the flooding started to affect one of the forward lavatories as well.

With several toilets now out of action due to continuing flooding issues, the autopilot unexpectedly disconnected, and the aircraft reportedly “started to drift to the right”.

The aircraft in question has three autopilot systems, and the pilots were unable to engage any of these systems without them disconnecting themselves a short time later, according to the AV Herald report.

Worryingly, correcting the right-hand drift was proving difficult, so the pilots declared an emergency while on the phone to an engineering team who attempted to troubleshoot the issue.

The pilots first considered diverting to Gander and then, once flight control systems seemed to correct themselves, set course for a possible diversion to Boston. In the end, the pilots were able to land at New York JFK as originally planned.

It remains a possibility that water from the flooded toilets could have interfered with crucial electronics and wiring deep inside the aircraft and this will be a theory that investigators look into.

The NTSB confirmed on Friday that it was probing the incident. The agency reported that none of the 221 passengers or 12 crew members were injured.

In a statement, a Delta spokesperson told us: “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.”

The aircraft involved in the incident (registration: N181DN) continues to fly regularly for the airline.

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  • The identical thing happen many years ago on a LAX 767 flight of mine. The aircraft had come in from Orly and was supposed to go back to Orly. Somewhere they switched it to the LHR flight perfect set up for a full plane to endure some excitement. The lav dump person dumped the same plane twice – oh my. The aft lavs started to overflow, I thought that we would make it all the way by just using the forward lavs, a foolish thought indeed. About one hour from Shannon the forward lav was full and spilling over. I had the lavs packed with blankets (the sand bag solution) and diverted to Shannon. You would have thought I had committed a serious aeronautical crime by not continuing on. Dispatch wanted me to poll the passengers, that was certainly laughable. When I asked them what next should I poll maybe to see if I should do an auto land do to the CAT 3 weather in London. I went into Shannon when they plugged the lav truck in before the doors were opened the noise was interesting a giant whooshing sound. We were refueled and out really fast, voila arrived in LHR 6 min late because we had a serious tailwind all the way from LAX. The 767 is good for over 17 hours before the lav tanks will burst over, And also I recommend don’t make any steep turns. I had to explain to the dispatcher that there were serious sanitary rules at – least then – about operating with unsanitary aircraft conditions. I was left thinking that I must have been the only person to have read the fine print specs for oceanic flights. There were some people who came to the cockpit with many solutions such as putting milk bottles in the Lavs. I am still laughing. I had to ban the onboard solution problem solving team from coming or calling me. There were 14 on board problems solvers all wanting to chat with me. They were afraid as it was Christmas eve – eve that if we were late that we would be parked at an airport hotel and they would miss completing the shopping lists they had for the Harrods food hall and holiday gatherings they had upcoming, Cheese, clotted crème, etc. I wrote 3 debriefs, Chief Pilot, head of dispatch, head of Flight Service they are today still airline classics. Always remember when you have the high ground write your best barn burner they really do hate it when you make them famous.
    A great 37 years, 707, 727, DC8, DC9, DC10, 757, 767, 777 Retired

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