The pilots of a 24-year-old Boeing 767 operated by United Airlines were forced to make an emergency landing on Wednesday after they reported “uncontained heat and smoke” in the cockpit shortly after takeoff.
The plane is the same aircraft (registration: N666UA) which dropped an emergency slide in midair earlier this month while on final approach to land at Chicago O’Hare Airport following a transatlantic flight from Zurich, Switzerland.
United hadn’t flown the aircraft in commercial service following the July 17 incident, which damaged a residential property after the slide pack hit the side of the building.
After spending several days on the ground, a planned service from Chicago to London Heathrow on July 23 was cancelled at the last minute and the plane remained on the ground for several more days before being scheduled to operate flight UA3 to Zurich.
According to the Aviation Herald, the aircraft was just 260 nautical miles from Chicago when the pilots reported “uncontained heat and smoke on the flight deck”. The plane diverted back to Chicago O’Hare, where it was met by emergency services which checked the plane over for signs of fire or smoke.
The aircraft remained stranded on a taxiway for around 45 minutes before being cleared to taxi back to the gate.
Following Wednesday’s incident, the plane remained on the ground for several more days but flight tracking websites indicate that United will try to fly the aircraft to London Heathrow on Saturday evening.
United Airlines did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.