This is the extraordinary audio that captured the moment a FedEx pilot told Air Traffic Control, “We’re going to declare an emergency” on Saturday night as his MD-11F approached to land at Sydney Airport.
The nearly 30-year-old aircraft, N576FE, eventually conducted a safe landing on its second attempt with emergency services not required.
The incident was first reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, which said the aircraft was experiencing “flight control issues” before a mayday was declared.
The McDonnell Douglas MD-11F, msn 48501, departed Singapore at 12:23pm on Saturday as flight FX9075 and approached to land in Sydney just before 10:30pm local time.
Data from Flightradar24 shows the pilot changed course from landing initially to head west over Brighton-Le-Sands and ascended to 3,000 feet.
The newspaper adds that the pilot asked to use the “full length of the runway”, before the MD-11F headed south over the Royal National Park and subsequently landed safely.
He was later hailed by air traffic controllers for his “very well handled” landing.
The ATSB said in a statement, “The ATSB is gathering further information into the circumstances of an occurrence where a MD-11 freighter aircraft conducted a missed approach and issued a mayday call while on approach to land at Sydney Airport on Saturday evening.”
Flightradar data shows this was the aircraft’s first flight in over a month, despite it often flying multiple times daily.