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Delta Air Boeing 767 Loses Emergency Slide Shortly After Takeoff Forcing Diversion to New York JFK

Delta Air Boeing 767 Loses Emergency Slide Shortly After Takeoff Forcing Diversion to New York JFK

a plane on the ground

A Delta Air Line Boeing 767 with 176 passengers onboard was forced to make an emergency diversion back to New York JFK on Friday morning after an emergency exit slide detached from the aircraft shortly after takeoff.

Delta flight DL520 departed New York JFK at around 8 am on Friday morning for a scheduled cross-country flight to Los Angeles, but while the 33-year-old aircraft was still on its initial climb, the pilots received a warning about the emergency exit slide at the right-hand wing.

Along with the cockpit warning, there was also what a Delta spokesperson described as a ‘non-routine’ sound coming from near the wing, which was enough for the pilots to declare an emergency and make an immediate return to New York JFK.

Upon landing, photos of the damage showed that the emergency slide pack had apparently become detached from the aircraft as its took off.

The aircraft has been taken out of service as engineers evaluate exactly what happened, while the passengers on flight 520 eventually got on the way to Los Angeles after Delta was able to source a replacement aircraft.

In a statement, Delta told us: “As nothing is more important than the safety of our customers and people, Delta flight crews enacted their extensive training and followed procedures to return to JFK.”

“We appreciate their professionalism and our customers’ patience for the delay in their travels,” the statement continued.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it would open an investigation into Friday’s incident.

Matt’s take

Emergency slide packs are normally attached to the inside of the cabin door and, therefore, can’t just fall from the sky because the door is sealed shut, but the Boeing 767 has overwing emergency exits where the slide pack is built into the side of the aircraft fuselage.

As a result of this design, it has been known for the slide pack to detach in-flight and fall to the ground below. Last July, the slide pack from a United Airlines Boeing 767 fell into the backyard of a Chicago home shortly before landing following a transatlantic flight from Zurich.

In December 2019, a slide pack also fell from a Delta-operated Boeing 767 in very similar circumstances on its final approach to Boston Logan Airport.

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