A passenger on board a JetBlue plane at New York’s JFK has shared footage of its terrified passengers after it tipped backwards as they got off leaving its nose in the air.
TikToker Sinead Bovell was among more than 100 passengers aboard the Airbus A321-231 as it touched down after a four-and-a-half hour flight from Barbados on Monday evening.
Passengers were disembarking through an air bridge at the front when the nose of the plane suddenly lurched into the air and its back end smacked onto the tarmac.
‘I was seated maybe three quarters the way back into the plane,’ Bovell told her followers.
‘And when just over half the plane exited or maybe a little bit more the plane abruptly tipped backwards so quickly and so intensely that the tail of the plane hit the pavement of the jet bridge and part of the door broke.’
Footage filmed by shocked passengers showed the aircraft’s nose pointing into the air and its front wheels a full 10 feet off the ground
The JetBlue Airbus 321 appeared about to take off as its nose tilted into the air during disembarkation at New York’s JFK Airport on Monday night
Her video records an airline stewardess ordering passengers around the stricken aircraft in an apparent bid to right it.
‘Very slowly, little by little, move towards the middle of the airplane, cause apparently everything is like it tipped up,’ she told them.
The airline blamed a ‘shift in weight and balance during deplaning’ and sharp-eyed travel bloggers noticed the front cargo doors already open while passengers in the rear seats had yet to exit.
‘Airport crew said they heard on their walkie-talkies the nose of the plane is 10 feet in the air and then we had to strategically rebalance the plane,’ Bovell said.
‘It was also scary because it tipped back down and they tried to start fixing this but also told us to watch out and move back.
‘We all just panicked and had enough and we said wait til we get off then we had to strategically exit the plane two rows at a time, take a break, two rows at a time, take a break.
‘And thank goodness nobody was actually exiting the plane at the time it tipped backwards because the state of that door..’
The B6662 flight from Bridgetown touched down just after 8.30pm on Monday night after its second flight of the day.
‘Once at the gate, due to a shift in weight and balance during deplaning, the tail of the aircraft tipped backward causing the nose of the aircraft to lift up and eventually return back down,’ a spokesman for the airline said.
‘Safety is JetBlue’s first priority; we are reviewing this incident, and the aircraft has been taken out of service for inspection.’
Frightened passengers struggled to stay upright as the plane see-sawed on its back wheels
‘We all just panicked and had enough and we said wait til we get off, then we had to strategically exit the plane two rows at a time, take a break, two rows at a time, take a break,’ Bovell told her followers on TikTok
No injuries were reported aboard the eight-year-old plane which had just finished its four-and-a-half hour flight from the Caribbean.
Industry experts said that such incidents are not uncommon when aircraft have been badly loaded.
‘Luggage is seemingly being removed through the forward cargo door, so maybe a lot of weight had already been removed there, while there was a significant amount of cargo in the rear,’ suggested travel blog website onemileatatime.com.
‘Passengers disembark front to back, so perhaps passengers weren’t moving forward that quickly.
‘This was probably the perfect storm in terms of having too much cargo and passenger weight in the back of the aircraft, while not having enough cargo and passenger weight in the front of the aircraft.’
Two years ago a United Airlines Boeing 737 carrying some of the University of Southern California football team tilted backwards while being unloaded at Lewiston, Idaho, leaving its front wheels off the ground and its nose pointing in the air.
‘Among mainline jets, the 737-900 is generally considered to be most at risk of tipping backwards on its tail, which is why many airlines have a tail stand that they use for the aircraft,’ the website wrote.
‘Essentially this is a stand placed near the back of the aircraft that prevents tipping.
‘While the A321 is the longest variant of the Airbus A320-family of aircraft, the plane historically hasn’t been as prone to tipping as the 737-900.’
JetBlue currently has 92 Airbus A321-231s in its fleet, 85 of which are in active service and seven are currently parked in storage, according to aviationsourcenews.com
‘This means ultimately that the aircraft will be grounded and that a replacement jet will be needed to operate the next flight down to Montego Bay,’ the website reported.
The four-and-a-half hour flight from Bridgetown in Barbados had passed uneventfully until the time came to leave the airplane at JFK
‘Thank goodness nobody was actually exiting the plane at the time it tipped backwards because the state of that door..’ she added
Poor weight distribution was also blamed for a similar incident on a United Airlines Boeing 737 which tilted up while carrying some of the University of Southern California football team two years ago in Lewiston, Idaho
Plane spotters were quick to suggest on X, formerly Twitter, what might have caused the terrifying airlift on the flight from Barbados to New York’s JFK Airport
Plane spotters were quick to speculate on what had caused the uneven weight distribution with some joking it might be a cargo of gold or even an elephant.
‘Sat on the tarmac for full two hours after touchdown in a klm 747 combi once, as they had an actual elephant in the back and we needed to stay seated (playing counterweights) until they unloaded Dumbo,’ wrote Jack D Ruppelaar on X, formerly Twitter.
‘It’s a Jet Boo Boo,’ suggested Michael@cinetic.
‘That’s eager to take off,’ added Daniel Wells.
Were YOU on the stricken flight? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.