Aviation News

November 1, 2011

Audio and Transcript: JetBlue Pilot Pleads for Help from Bradley Airport Control Tower

Conversations between the pilots of a stranded JetBlue airliner and air traffic controllers at Bradley International Airport reveals the desperation felt on the plane’s flight deck and a sense that, not only were airport ground crews overwhelmed, but JetBlue management did little to help.

JetBlue Flight 504, from Fort Lauderdale, was on the ground at the Connecticut airport for over seven hours on Oct. 29 after diverting from Newark Liberty due to a snowstorm-induced outage of the airport’s Instrument Landing System. The audio clip and transcript below, courtesy of LiveATC.net, paints a picture of the chaos being experienced on the plane as passenger anger threatens to explode.

JetBlue could face millions of dollars in federal fines over the incident.

Note: This is a compilation of conversations, it is not in real time.

BDL Tower: You hear me from 504?
JetBlue 504: November 504, roger. You know, if you try to come on with a jetway now, and, uhh, flash a trooper’s uniform on this plane, it’s not gonna be good. It’s not gonna be pretty. They’ve calmed down a little bit. I told ‘em we’re waiting for the gate, we’re just waiting for a tug and a towbar and it’s only a matter of seconds, so… I’ll tell ya, do not bring anybody on board this plane, you’re not gonna open the door, so don’t even put the airstairs up there.
BDL Tower: Okay, roger that.
JetBlue 504: I appreciate your efforts, but it’ll be worse if you put a trooper on here right now.
BDL Tower: Ya know what’s goin’ on guys? They’re having issues with that tug over on the gate, so, uhh, just bear with us and we’ll get you over there, I promise.
JetBlue 504: Can you tell those guys to move that jetway, uhh, those airstairs away from the plane.

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JetBlue 504: JetBlue 504…
BDL Ground: JetBlue 504, Bradley Ground, go ahead.
JetBlue 504: Yeah, I got a problem here on the airplane, I’m gonna need to have the cops onboard. There’s a cop car sitting right in front of me. Right here, right now, I need some airstairs brought over here and the cops brought onboard the airplane.
BDL Ground: JetBlue 504, roger.

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BDL Ground: State 6, ground.
State 6: Copy that, understand. We’re gettin’ the airstairs now.
BDL Ground: State 6, roger.

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BDL Ground: State 6, is there a trooper outside the aircraft on the ramp?

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BDL Ground: JetBlue 504, do you have a minute? Do you need anything else from us?
JetBlue 504: 504, we just would like to get the airstairs. We see two buses out here that we can start deplaning some people and we’re waiting on the sheriff, so, hold on.
BDL Ground: Roger

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JetBlue 1080: Yeah, ground, if you can somehow communicate with someone outside there, and tell them there they got the wrong airplane. We’re the little 190 next to the Airbus, there. Tell them they need to get on the Airbus ASAP. We tried to tell them and they’re just lookin’ at us like a good ol’ deer in the headlights.
BDL Ground: JetBlue 1080, you’re parked next to JetBlue 504 and they’re trying to go to you instead of the Airbus?
JetBlue 1080: That’s correct, we’re the 190 and the Airbus needs them more than we do.
BDL Ground: Alright, State 6, if you’re on frequency, just uhh, have the airstairs go over to the Airbus A320, not the Embraer 190. They’re both parked by Alpha 22.
State 6: Copy that, pulling the stairs up as we speak.

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BDL Tower: State 4, Bradley Ground, correction, Bradley Tower, information.
State 4: Say again for State 4.
BDL Tower: State 4, I just wanted to give you an update. If you aren’t aware, currently we have no ILS, its out of service, so right now, unless an arrival says he wants to take an RNAV approach, we’re not taking any inbounds, the ILS out. Also, our ground radar is out of service.
State 4: Copy that, State 4.

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JetBlue 504: Tower, JetBlue 504…
BDL Ground: JetBlue 504, go ahead.
JetBlue 504: Look, ya know, we can’t seem to get any help from our own company. I apologize for this, but is there any way that you can get a tug and a towbar out here to us and get us towed somewhere to a gate or something? I, I don’t care. Take us anywhere.
BDL Ground: JetBlue 504, roger. I will, uhh, talk to State operations and see what they can, uhh, do. Were you able to resolve the situation in the back or is that still ongoing?
JetBlue 504: Yes, we’ve resolved it for now, we’ve got the show of authorities on board, but we have a paraplegic on board that needs to come off, I have a diabetic on hear that’s got an issue, I’ve got a list of things, I’ve just gotta get some help.
BDL Ground: Roger, umm, do you need any paramedics or anything like that?
JetBlue 504: No, we’ve got the firetruck over here and I guess they have some medical background here. I don’t know who all the players are on the backend, but it looks like they’ve got it covered. My priority right now is a tug and a towbar, I, I…just give me a welding shop and I’ll be willin’ to make one myself.
BDL Ground: JetBlue 504, roger, I’ll pass the message along.
JetBlue 504: Thank you sir.
BDL Ground: State 6, ground.
State 3: State 3, we copied all that.
BDL Ground: State 3, roger. Will you be able to, or, uhh, I know you’re busy down there, uhh, if you have any resources for the JetBlue 504?
State 3: We are working the best we can, guys. [unintelligble]
BDL Ground: Roger.

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[Unknown 1]: …on the ground here at Bradley, or is that the seven-and-a-half hours?
[Unknown 2]: …No, no, that doesn’t include…hang on just a second.
BDL Ground: Yeah, we just have a few questions from Washington.
JetBlue 504: Yeah, no problem, uhh, let’s see. We left Lauderdale at at 1407Z, annd, off the gate at 1407, we were off, uh, that’s irrelevant to you. So we were out of Lauderdale at 1407Z, and we got on the ground at 1724Z, and we have been here now for seven-and-a-half hours. After on the ground 1724, so what is it? 0054 now? So right at seven-and-a-half hours, plus the three hours of flight time or whatever that was.
BDL Ground: JetBlue 504, roger.

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JetBlue 504: Ground, JetBlue 504…
BDL Ground: JetBlue 504, ground, go ahead.
JetBlue 504: Hey, listen man, I just wanted to put my two cents worth in, for whatever it’s worth. Uhh, thank you very much. This is Captain Thompson over here on 504, just thank you very much for helping us out, because, I think we got more help from you guys than our own people.
BDL Ground: JetBlue 504, you’re welcome, it’s our pleasure.

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JetBlue 504: Ground 504, lookin for us?
BDL Ground: JetBlue 504, Bradley Ground, if you have a minute, is there anything else that you need from us at this time?
JetBlue 504: No sir, man, I think you’ve gone above and beyond for us and we certainly appreciate it. I guess we’re gonna get these people offloaded and take them over to Gate 20 or something like that. We’ve got a tug and towbar sitting right here in front of us, we’re gonna get hooked up. I don’t know what gate we’re going to, maybe a little assistance on the tug and tow to tell us what gate we’re going to. But, uhh, other than that, then they’re gonna move over to 1098 which is sittin’ right next door to us and offload them, uhh, offload those folks with the buses, do the same thing, I guess.
BDL Ground: Yeah, they offloaded all the passengers onto buses?
JetBlue 504: They did.
BDL Ground: Okay, roger. Yeah, we were just getting questions from Washington, so I wanted to make sure everything was sorted out on your end.
JetBlue 504: Yeah, that’s what I figured. Yeah, they’re still offloading. They got those itty bitty, ya know, short buses kinda things, so they’re still offloading people here and uhh, we’re still goin’ at it, man, and thanks very much.