According to audio from air traffic, a Boeing cargo flight heading for Belgium was forced to dump 20 tons of fuel into the Atlantic Ocean and return to John F. Kennedy International Airport because a horse aboard broke out of its stall.
FlightRadar24 reported that Air Atlanta Icelandic’s charter plane was just reaching 31,000 feet, around 30 minutes after taking off when the pilot radioed air traffic control.
On the recording, you can hear the pilot saying “We are a cargo plane with a horse on board.” The horse had escaped from its stall.
The pilot continued, “There is no issue with flying.” “We need to return back to New York because we can’t resecure the horses.”
The plane’s pilot reported to air traffic control the aircraft had performed a U-turn off Boston’s coast to drop 20 tons of weight over the Atlantic, “10 miles west of Martha’s Vineyard”, to lighten the flight’s weight for an earlier landing.
When the plane touched the ground, the pilot requested a veterinarian to be present.
The pilot told the air traffic controller that he thought they needed a vet for the horse to land. Is this a topic you would like to discuss with New York City?
Once the plane had landed, air traffic control asked the pilot whether he needed assistance. “On the ground, negative,” the pilot replied in audio. “On the ramp, yes, we have a horse in problem.”
Upon landing, according to People, 14 other horses needed to be extricated from the aircraft to get to the displaced horse.
John Cutcelli, the chairman of JFK’s ARK (which handles animal exports at the airport) told the outlet. Turbulence spooked the animal.
Curcelli said that the horse had “jumped and managed to get its front legs both over the barricade of its stall before it got stuck.”
According to Cutcelli, ARK provided veterinarian care, veterinarians, and animal handlers along with medical equipment, slings for horses, and an ambulance for the horse to be transported to the tarmac. “Everything was needed to accommodate this pony,” Curcelli said.
The horse’s injuries were too severe for the team to treat, and they had to put it down.
FlightRadar24 reported that the other equine passengers were reloaded onto board and arrived at their destination in Liege (Belgium) early on Friday morning.
Air Atlanta Icelandic did not respond to our initial requests for comment on the incident.
According to the American Journal of Transportation (AJT), horses are loaded directly into traveling stalls during air transport.
They can be raised onto pallets and then lowered down to the plane’s level. The stalls are then slid into an open doorway and locked to the pallet system on the floor.
The Ark is a $65 Million animal-specific terminal, built by John F. Kennedy. It was designed for the transportation of horses and animals.
The airline has 48 specially-designed horse stalls on board. It also offers a 24-hour reception center and a quarantine area for horses.
According to the outlet, horse owners can expect to pay four to five figures per stall when transporting horses across the Atlantic.