Tapes reveal cockpit urgency after flight attendant meltdown

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by JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on April 18, 2012 at 6:31 PM

D/FW AIRPORT — Air traffic control recordings released by the FAA on Wednesday reveal an urgency by pilots of American Airlines Flight 2332 last month to return to the gate after a veteran flight attendant experienced a violent mental breakdown.

"We're not going to be ready," the American Airlines pilot told a ground controller. "We have an issue. We'd like to pull off on the ramp here for a moment and hold."

The Chicago-bound flight had just pushed back from the gate on March 9 when pilots first alerted controllers something was wrong.

On the other side of the cockpit door, a veteran American Airlines flight attendant was having a mental breakdown. She said her roommate died on 9/11 and asked if terrorists were on her Chicago-bound flight.

Moments later, the attendant admitted she was bipolar and said she forgot to take her medication.

The flight attendant kicked a co-worker, screamed, and was eventually restrained by other flight attendants and passengers.

Pilots, who could hear the violent commotion, were trying to communicate with both the cabin and controllers.

"Yeah, just give me instructions again," the pilot said. "We've got issues on board this aircraft with one of our — uh —   and we need to go back to the gate immediately."

Perhaps he was unaware of what was unfolding, but the pilot never revealed that a flight attendant was causing the disturbance.

"If there's anything else I can do, let me know and we'll help you out," the controller told the cockpit.

"We just got something going... someone's going crazy in the back," the pilot responded.

American Airlines said the flight attendant who experienced the meltdown is still employed, but remains on medical leave.

E-mail: jwhitely@wfaa.com

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