"Uncontrollable" Plane Makes Emergency Landing in Portugal
Air Astana Flight KC1388 landed safely at Portugal's Beja Airport Sunday afternoon after declaring a "general emergency" and experiencing "uncontrollable" aircraft issues in-flight, according to the International Flight Network. The aircraft began squawking the code 7700 shortly after takeoff indicating an emergency. There were no passengers aboard the flight.
The Cairo-bound Embraer 190 departed from Portugal’s largest airport, Lisbon Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS), where it was being serviced for maintenance and thus had no passengers on board, at 1:31pm local time Sunday, but developed severe technical issues mid-flight. According to audio communication between the pilots and air traffic control, the plane's instruments were unusable and pilots had no control over the aircraft. With bad weather conditions near Lisbon Airport and without functioning landing systems, the pilots began preparing for the worst-case scenario of ditching the plane: the formal term for making an emergency controlled water landing.
Portuguese F-16s were deployed to assist the aircraft, and air traffic control suggested the aircraft reroute to land at Beja Airport (BYL), a military base located approximately 75 miles southeast of Lisbon in an area with better weather. The pilots eventually managed to gain control following a series of extreme changes in altitude, speed and heading (direction).
Air Astana, which is based out of Kazakhstan, confirmed via social media that one of the airline’s 9 Embraer E-190s suffered a loss of control shortly after takeoff. Though Air Astana does not operate passenger services to or from Lisbon Airport, the airline sends select aircraft to Lisbon for regularly scheduled maintenance. The Air Astana E-190 is registered as P4-KCJ and is 7 years old.
The incident is currently under investigation. This post will be updated as more details are made available.