This afternoon I was on a Delta 767-300 from Atlanta to Orlando. I am not sure if we experienced what could be technically called an emergency landing, but all of the emergency equipment was waiting for us as we touched down.
The flight actually left Atlanta two minutes early and was ahead of schedule. As the lead flight attendant told us that we have been cleared to land, we were all ready to get to MCO a few minutes early.
But it was odd because it seemed as if we were not descending. We circled for about 25 minutes before quickly descending. I thought that something was wrong because I have never had any delays into Orlando before (and I live there.) I figured that we were circling to get rid of excess fuel or because the pilots were trying to solve a problem.
We came in for the landing faster than I have usually experienced. As we touched down, we noticed several emergency vehicles waiting for us. Our landing took the entire runway. We then simply stopped as the emerengu equipment rushed towards us.
The pilot then came on the itercom and explained what had happened. We experienced an "alternate flap landing." A hydrolic problem was to blame. Once the plane came to a stop, the emergency crews surrounded the plane and checked it out. The plane was now powered down and we had to wait about 15 minutes for a tow to lead us to our gate.
I would like to praise Delta for their handling of the situation. As I mentioned, we were on par for an early arrival. But because we kept circling and because of the ground delay and slow tow to the gate, we deboarded the plane fifty minutes late. While we were waiting, the pilot came on the intercome several times and apologized, thanked us for our patience, and explained what the problem was (in laymans terms.) His constant explanations impressed most of us passengers. Even though we were nearly an hour late and had to sit on a hot airplane for an extended period of time, as we left everyone thanked the pilot. Delta agents were apologizing and handing out comment cards. The 767 was about 90% full, and yet I heard no complaints. To the contrary, the pilot's updates and genuiness impressed everyone.
It was an interesting flight, but it was handled extremely well. They did not, however, ask us to get into crash position. In fact, the pilot never explained what was going on until after we landed.
The plane was scheduled to depart back to ATL about 45 minutes later, so what was Delta going to do about that flight?