On 9 November, an Air Atlanta Icelandic cargo plane, departing from New York’s JFK Airport and headed to Liège, in Belgium, had to turn around shortly after departing, as a horse had broken free from its carrier.
Operated on a Boing 747-400, flight ABD4592/CC4592 was about 30 minutes into the 6-hour journey when pilots contacted air traffic control (ATC), requesting clearance to return back to New York, according to communications recordings between the pilots and ATC tower obtained by YouTube channel “You can see ATC”. The pilots reported a horse escaping from its stall and, while that did not pose a problem to the actual flying of the plane, staff in the hold were unable to secure the animal back in its carrier.
“We have a live animal, horse, on board the airplane and the horse managed to escape its stall. We don’t have a problem flying-wise, but we need to return back to New York, we cannot get the horse back secured”, a pilot can be heard on the recording.
Soon after receiving the details for landing back, pilots also requested permission to dump about 20 tonnes of fuel, as the aircraft was too heavy to perform a safe landing. The fuel was dumped in the Atlantic, “approximately 10 miles west of Martha’s Vineyard”. During this procedure, the pilots again requested help from ATC, asking for a vet to await them at the airport.
The horse hurt itself while running around in the cargo hall. “We have a horse in difficulty”, a pilot told ATC. Upon landing, ATC asked if the flight requested further assistance. “On the ground, negative. On the ramp, yes, we have a horse in problem”, the pilots said.
A vet entered the cargo hall of the plane to tend to the horse after landing. The fate of the animal after this point or how it managed to escape from its stall in the first place remains unclear, but the 747 took off again shortly after, completing its journey to Liège, most likely without the horse.