The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating an in-flight occurrence involving a Metrojet B-737-200 (N282AU) on February 23, 1999 near Salisbury, Maryland, during which the crew reported flight control anomalies. Information gathered by Safety Board investigators follows:
At approximately 11:15 a.m. February 23, 1999, Metrojet Flight 2710 en route from Orlando, Florida, to Hartford, Connecticut, experienced an unintended wheel deflection while on autopilot and cruising at approximately 260 knots at 33,000 feet.
One of the pilots told Safety Board investigators that he noticed the control wheel rotate to the left. The pilots also noticed that the rudder pedals were offset. The pilots told the NTSB that they disengaged the autopilot and then stepped on the rudder pedals in an attempt to return the pedals to their center position, but there was no response. The pilots indicated that they disengaged the yaw damper, then activated the standby rudder system, and the rudder pedals then centered.
The crew declared an emergency and diverted to the nearest airport, Baltimore-Washington International, for a precautionary landing. The plane landed uneventfully at 11:30 a.m. There were no injuries.
The NTSB sent a team of investigators, who retrieved both the flight data (FDR) and cockpit voice recorders (CVR), interviewed crew members, removed the yaw damper coupler, the rudder power control unit, two hydraulic fluid filters, and a one-pint sample of hydraulic fluid from each of the plane's two hydraulic systems.
The 30-minute continuous loop CVR had recorded over the in-flight event. The NTSB is evaluating data from the FDR, an 11-parameter device. NTSB investigators will examine the rudder PCU in its continuation of the investigation of the event.