American Airlines tire blowout blocks runways at Ronald Reagan Airport

Markus Mainka /

Two out of the three runways of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) had to be temporarily closed in the afternoon of October 17, 2021, when an American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) aircraft blew its tires upon landing. 

At around 16:00 local time, American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) flight 4965 was arriving from Memphis International Airport (MEM) in Tennessee, when it stopped in the middle of the runway. 

According to this Twitter clip from Statter911 which reports emergency medical service responses around the US National Capital area, the aircraft sat on the runway for about 10 minutes before the emergency crew arrived.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority confirmed to AeroTime Hub via an emailed statement that, “At 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 16, Airports Authority Fire and Rescue responded to Runway 1/19 at Reagan National Airport (DCA) after reports that American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) flight 4965, arriving from Memphis (MEM) and operated by Republic Airways on an Embraer E175, experienced a mechanical issue upon landing.”

Runway 1/19 and 15/33 were temporarily closed as crews assessed the situation and moved the aircraft.

In an emailed statement to AeroTime Hub, an American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) spokesperson summed up the incident: “American Eagle flight 4965 operated by Republic Airways, with service from Memphis to Regan National Airport (DCA) experienced a mechanical issue upon landing at DCA. The flight landed safely and there were no injuries. All passengers were bussed to the terminal.”

The aircraft’s pilot told ABC7 news that they had to use the emergency brakes as the tires were blown.  “Yes, the tires were blown on the runway,” the pilot said. “We had to use emergency braking to get the airplane to stop. We were, we were not gonna stop.”

Heavy braking increases the temperature of the wheels and may require cooling action, such as using brake fans and observing a minimum cooling period, to ensure fire does not break out. Hence why it is better to stop on the runway rather than continue to taxi.

All 71 passengers and four crew on board were bussed to the terminal. 

DCA reported that by 1815 local time, two of the airport’s three runways were operating and that air traffic operations were back to normal. 

By 19:40 local time, the American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) aircraft was removed from the runway.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority confirmed to AeroTime Hub that Runway 15/33 reopened at around 6:15 p.m. that evening, and Runway 1/19 reopened at around 8 p.m.

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