Diary of a pissed-off flight attendant

Unscheduled landing after our plane experienced an apparent hydraulic leak

Today was the craziest day of my life – filled with lots of emotions and high-dose stress. The good news is that everything at the end was okay, nobody got injured and we landed safely.

This morning at 6 a.m, my crew and I had to perform a flight to Berlin with airbus A319 aircraft. As usual we made our briefing first, then we headed to the plane. Our plane was in the air for almost an hour when the Captain came over the PA saying that we had to return to Sofia airport due to a technical issue. At this moment my collegue and I were on the aisle and have already started with the beverage service, when the purser came to me and asked me to meet her at the back galley. Then she told me there was hydraulic leak from one of the engines and we had to go back to Sofia airport. We didn’t tell the passengers to avoid panic, that is why I tried to keep cool and smile to everyone. Only a few passengers asked me what was going on and all I have said was there was an insignificant problem with the indication system in the cockpit. I must confess that at first I got a little constrained and the worst things have passed through my mind…

The primary function of a hydraulic fluid is to convey power. Often two or more hydraulic systems are built into the design of an aircraft (on A319 there are three systems). As far as I know each system is provided with different sources of fluid pressurization and power generation. This power is transmitted by the hydraulic fluid through system specific hydraulic lines and is used to drive the motors and actuators associated with that system. When the hydraulic fluid leaks, scary effects may result such as inability to extend/retract high lift devices such as flaps or slats; partial or complete loss of control of the airplane; reduced braking capability upon landing; inability to extend landing gear and many many other things that you do not want to experience. The good news is that there are a few independant ways of extending an A319 landing gear in case of a problem – to extend it by it’s own weight for example.

We finished with the beverage service as soon as possible and made quick preparaton for landing. The pilots extended the landing gear 20 minutes before landing to make sure it will extend and we were all waiting to land safely. In some cases there is chance of fire when landing, that is why I thought it’s going to be a good idea if I make my 30 seconds review – commands in case of evacuation, how/which door to open, how to evacuate all people, ect. The fact that we had a new collegue in our crew today was making me even more nervous, because she didn’t have any experience. Today was her first flight. In case of an emergency situation she wouldn’t have ANY idea what to do, which means our crew today was minus one flight attendant.

During our descend there was strong wind which was making the situation even more tense. At the end thank God we landed safely, the fire station was waiting nearby the runway in case of fire, but everything was okay…well we didn’t know that the brakes of the plane didn’t work, but when the first officer told us, it was too late. He also said that the strong head-wind has helped us to stop…

So that is my story for today, I am so grateful I am alive, nothing bad happened and I hope I won’t be experiencing such things in the near future. Whew…I felt so relieved after landing! Passengers returned to the terminal and were delayed for an hour. We changed the airplane as soon as possible and we headed to Berlin again!

photo of the broken engine

For more stories click here: Is there a doctor on board?Fatal Friday 13th ; Aggressive deportee on board