“Brace, Brace, Head Down, Stay Down” Passenger Shows American Airlines Flight Emergency Landing

A passenger reported that their American Airlines flight made an emergency landing on Sunday “after a potential brake failure.” Everyone had to assume the crash position. Watch the video starting around 18 seconds in and you’ll hear “Head down, stay down, brace, brace” being chanted as the aircraft diverted to Philadelphia. And then everything was fine.

The plane looked like a Republic Embraer 175 operating as American Eagle. I asked American about the flight and they referred me to Republic, who checked their “irregular ops reports from the 28th and didn’t see anything that matched.” So I’m not sure what flight this was, and am curious if readers have seen any other references to it?

I’ve flown on aircraft that have had to make emergency landings. There have been numerous go arounds and missed approaches in low visibility. I’ve been on board American Airlines for a bird strike on departure from Dallas – Fort Worth, and experienced the most direct approach back to an airport I’ve ever seen (emergency vehicles met the plane and it was inspected before being allowed to taxi back under its own power to a gate). And I’ve been on board a flight where the plane’s landing gears wouldn’t register as deploying.

Each time it’s a little bit scary, but there’s a procedure, and flying is incredibly safe. The aircraft are designed to be safe, with very few single failure points. More or less every situation that has occurred before has been gamed out. And while modern aircraft can be flown safely by less experienced pilots who staff airlines in certain parts of the world, U.S. and European pilots are generally highly skilled. It is very unlikely that the Ethiopian and Lion Air 737 MAX incidents would have occurred here.

There will come a time when AIs perform better than co-pilots, though we do not today seem close to this point. Kudos to the unknown pilot of the aircraft in this video, who worked through the situation with air traffic control and their own airline’s operations team while remaining calm and executing procedures (it appears) flawlessly.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. in other consequences of plane crash news, Southwest is expected to finally receive its first 737 MAX7s this year as Boeing becomes more confident (perhaps misplaced) that they can get the jet approved. First MAX 7 flights won’t happen until well into 2024 but you gotta start somewhere.

    And that means that maybe Boeing will get the MAX 10 certified by the middle of 2024 which means UA’s aggressive growth plan won’t happen as planned – which also explains why Lord Kirby sees no urgency in getting a deal done w/ UA’s pilots.

  2. Suspect this was AA 4418, which according to Flightaware diverted to PHL on Saturday (not Sunday).

  3. I like when the potential for sh- hitting the fan that they tell you to assume the prone position!!! Ya baby….

  4. She didn’t seem concerned enough to stop the annoying eye rolls and facial expressions.

  5. I have so far avoided an emergency landing, although I’ve been in some, uh, rough situations, including a very firm (not hard) landing at Reagan National that resulted in the head flight attendant nervously making the “Any landing you can walk away from” joke. Thankfully the tires remained intact.

    (Yes, it was an intentional firm landing in less-than-ideal weather conditions on a shorter runway. DCA can be pretty tight for those who have not experienced it and you do NOT want to bounce or you’re likely to land in the river. So all landings at DCA are a bit on the firm side with a lot of reverse thrust, but that one was quite the slam).

    But I’ve so far avoided a true emergency and hope to continue to do so!

  6. ” It is very unlikely that the Ethiopian and Lion Air 737 MAX incidents would have occurred here.”

    Maybe. Maybe not. There are plenty of near fatal and fatal incidents here in the US from errors and bad pilot, traffic control judgment. It’s probably just as likely to happen here as it anywhere else.

  7. If they were really that concerned about the brakes, they should have diverted to one of our many US Air Forces bases with 10,000+ foot runways available. McGuire AFB not too far away. I’ve got 2 abandoned 12,000′ footers practically in my backyard…

  8. You would think if you bend down and braced one could get their neck broken if if landing was very hard and forceful???

  9. @dee Well said. I guess its closer to kiss your a$$ goodbye in case of a real emergency. If this one overshot the end of the runway and went nose first and down an embankment into the river, that’s exactly what’s gonna happen.

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