I flew back from Philadelphia late Sunday night. I can usually say “the trip was uneventful, blah blah blah” but that wasn’t the case this time. It started off uneventful enough. We left Philly a little late, but no big deal because I had like a three or four hour layover anyway and I was just going to watch the Eagles in the Atlanta airport (btw, go Eagles). So I did that and then I got onto my Atlanta to San Jose plane. We took off a bit late, but still nothing out of the ordinary. But then about 10 minutes into the flight, we were climbing out of the Atlanta area and we were at like 15,000 feet when I heard a loud “clunk” on the right side of the plane. It was not a sound I’d heard before on an airplane, especially considering that the landing gear was already up (lowering and raising the landing gear can make some weird noise sometimes). I was seated very close to some of the stewardesses (they were still seated) and they let out some short shrieks, so I knew something was up. I don’t think there’s too much that can faze an airplane employee on a flight. So I was a little freaked out.
However, even after the clunk, the only thing that happened was a noticeable drop in velocity. For a second or two, it felt like someone had tapped the breaks a little too hard in a car. But we were still flying along pretty normally and about five seconds later, you would have had no idea anything happened. So three or four minutes after the sound, a flight attendant got on the loud speaker and made an announcement that went something like this (paraphrasing): Hi, this is Kyle, you made have heard a noise on the right side of a plane. It was an engine failure. The pilots are currently busy running checks and tests, but we will make an announcement as soon as we can about what’s going to happen. Thank you. I was, surprisingly, not very freaked out. Neither was anyone else around me from what I could see. I was somewhat comforted by the fact that I knew that these jets can fly around on one engine so, as long as we had one engine, we’d be okay. A few minutes later they updated us and said that we were running on one engine and that we’d be heading back to Atlanta. It took them about 25 minutes to get us back to Atlanta because I guess they needed to find a spot in the busy runway schedule. So we landed on the ground and some fire trucks came over to check out the plane — supposedly it’s part of a SOP for this situation because there wasn’t an ongoing fire in the engine as far as I know. Anyway, we got off the plane and a few hours later we got back on a new plane and flew down to Costa Rica.
So today I did a little research. I wanted to see how often these things happen, how dangerous it really is, etc. I found something VERY interesting from a few months ago:
An Aug. 6 Delta flight from Las Vegas on a Boeing 757-232 jet with Pratt & Whitney PW2037 engines had a problem at the start of its takeoff, according to the NTSB. The pilots heard a loud bang and saw that the right engine had lost power. The flight returned to the gate. There was no fire and no injuries, the NTSB said.
The FAA believes the problem is a “manufacturing quality” issue, said spokeswoman Laura Brown. “We’re working aggressively on an appropriate response,” Brown said.
Okay, so, here’s the thing: Atlanta to San Jose flights are, normally, a 757. The one last night definitely was a 757. I have no idea how to find out if it was a 757-232, but in my research related to the Boeing 757, I found the following on Wikipedia:
Prior to July 2007, American Airlines was the largest operator, operating a total of 141 757s. American Airlines has retired their 757 fleet that was inherited via American’s buyout of TWA, due to the fact that they use Pratt & Whitney engines rather than Rolls-Royce like most of American’s 757s.
If Delta was using a Pratt & Whitney-powered 757-232 against the recommendation of the NTSB, I will seriously question ever flying on Delta again. It would be utterly absurd for them to put their customers in harms way in such a reckless manner. I’m not sure of the best way to figure out what happened, but I am going to ask around and see what the deal is. However, the bottom line is that it was good to get home.
In other news, I know of an interesting opportunity for the writers out there. I’ve made appeals to writers from my blog before and I’ve gotten a high response rate, so I figure this is a good place to make this announcement. Randy Ray is running a writing contest in which first place is $1000 — not bad for writing a single article. There’s another $1000 up for grabs split among other prizes. The details are laid out in the link above, so you can check those out there. You have until the end of January to enter. Also, the articles will be published on Randy’s website Bonus Internet Poker which is an online poker bonus guide.
In case you don’t know who Randy is, he’s a poker SEO who used to consult for PokerStars. If you’re wondering how PokerStars got to the #1 ranking for the keyword “online poker”, Randy is one of the reasons why. He’s a very smart online marketer, especially in the gaming space. Make no mistake about it — the writing contest is a marketing move. And a very smart one at that. He get articles, writers get a shot at a decent prize (much more than a typical per article fee) and he also gets links from places like my blog. It’s a win-win for everyone. So, if you’re a writer or if you think you can write a good poker strategy article, give it a go.
Disclosure: I may steal this idea at some point for one of the sites I run. Seems like a good idea to me.