Captured air-ground radio transmissions reveal that an American Eagle Embraer 175 crew encountered serious pitch-control problems shortly after departing Atlanta on 6 November.
The aircraft – operated by Republic Airways, bound for New York LaGuardia as flight AA4439 – took off from runway 09L but entered a right-hand orbit and climbed to about 14,000ft. Its crew declared an emergency, seeking to return to the airport.
"We're in a stalling situation," one of its pilots told an Atlanta tower controller. While the aircraft had been given clearance to stop its climb and descend at the crew's discretion, the pilot stated: "We can't pitch down. We're trying to descend here."
The crew said the aircraft was transporting six occupants and was carrying 12,000lb (5,440kg) of fuel.
Air traffic control offered runway 10 to the crew, and the tower controller told the pilots that they could have 08L or 09R if they preferred, advising that other traffic would be cleared "out of your way".
About 8min after departure the aircraft began to descend, apparently under greater control, and the aircraft was vectored for runway 10.
Tower controllers contacted the airport's emergency services, informing the fire chief that the crew was experiencing "severe flight-control issues" including pitch control, according to communications archived by LiveATC.
The crew subsequently informed the tower that two systems had cut out and the aircraft was "in direct mode" but that it appeared to be under control.
It was vectored to the runway 10 localiser, with an option to join the 09R approach. The aircraft landed on runway 10 about 20min after take-off.