(first person account is at this thread on FlyerTalk, where I first read about this)

One thing I take for granted pretty often is just how skilled airline pilots are.  They go through thousands of hours of flight training and, by the time they’re flying mainline jets, have gone through countless certifications and checks not only by their airline but also the FAA (here in the States) and probably many other certification agencies.  We’re in the Golden Era of Air Travel because great technology has met incredibly skilled pilots.

American A321T (not flight 17 yesterday), courtesy of aa.com

Yesterday, American Airlines flight 17 from JFK-SFO experienced a rather sudden compressor stall aboard one of its A321T aircraft shortly after takeoff from JFK.  This resulted in the right engine blowing out (not exploding, but suddenly shutting off is a better way to put it).  About 8 minutes into the flight one of the pilots declared an emergency (you can overhear the ATC chatter during the incident here, start at 8 minutes and listen for “American 17”).

What stood out to me is how normal everything sounded.  No doubt it was sudden and scary for the passengers but the pilots maintained their duty of flying the aircraft and landed safely at JFK.  Another A321T was available in a hangar and passengers were offered to either take that aircraft, cancel their flight for free, or were offered hotel vouchers.  (incidentally it looks like the spare A321T they had ended up having a mechanical problem so they cancelled that flight too and they’ll eventually leave this morning, oops)

I’m a nervous flyer, which I know doesn’t make sense with how much I fly.  Stories like this are reassuring to me, not necessarily the engine blowing out thing, but how calm and collected the American pilot remained and how he worked with air traffic control to safely land the plane to fly another day.

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