UPS MD-11 Experiences Flight Control Issues, Returns Safely to Oakland

By Ivan PetrenkoMay 13, 2024 10:30 AMNews
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White passenger plane on airport during dawntime
White passenger plane on airport during dawntime. Source: unsplash

On the morning of Friday, May 10th, a UPS MD-11 freight aircraft encountered significant flight control problems shortly after takeoff, leading to an emergency return to Metro Oakland International Airport (OAK). The incident involved the aircraft registered as N284UP, which was on its daily route to Ontario International Airport (ONT) in Canada.

Details of the Incident

The aircraft, with three crew members on board, took off from OAK at 06:33 PDT. After climbing to an altitude of 4,000 feet, the crew detected issues with the flight controls and promptly declared an emergency. They managed to stabilize the aircraft and maintain altitude for approximately 11 minutes while making arrangements to return to Oakland. The aircraft landed safely at 06:51 PDT and taxied back to the apron without the need for external assistance.

Aircraft Background and Specifications

The MD-11, known for its distinctive tri-jet configuration, has a history of sensitive control due to modifications aimed at reducing weight and drag. This particular aircraft, 26.41 years old, was initially delivered to Swissair in 1997 before joining the UPS fleet in 2006. Notably, the model has been involved in several incidents over its operational history, largely attributed to its challenging handling characteristics.

Post-Incident Analysis and Safety Measures

UPS has not yet released detailed comments on the specific mechanical issues encountered. However, the aircraft was able to resume its scheduled flight, departing 13 hours later and safely reaching its intended destination in Ontario after a significant delay.

Ensuring Continuous Safety and Reliability

This incident underscores the ongoing challenges and safety considerations associated with older aircraft models like the MD-11. UPS's prompt and effective handling of the emergency situation highlights the importance of rigorous training and preparedness in ensuring the safety of crew and cargo.

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