FDX705

07th April 1994

The following is a transcript of the radio transmissions between FedEx flight 705 and Memphis air traffic controllers during the attempted takeover of the DC-10 on 07th April 1994. The aircraft had departed Memphis at 3:32 p.m. CDT, westbound for San Jose, California and was climbing through 18,000 feet when Auburn Calloway, a FedEx flight engineer in the jumpseat, reportedly came into the cockpit and attacked the crew. He had smuggled four hammers, a survival knife, and a spear gun onto the plane in a guitar case.

Communications from the aircraft came first from FedEx First Officer Jim Tucker, and later Captain Dave Sanders.

Along with Flight Engineer Andy Peterson, they fought off Calloway, at one time all three leaving the cockpit with the DC-10 on autopilot to struggle for their lives. Comments in brackets "[[ ]]" are added for explanation or clarity. Information herein was gathered from various Memphis news media sources.

 

3:41 p.m. FDX705 (Tucker) - Center, center emergency!

3:41 Center - Aircraft with emergency go ahead.

3:41 (Sound of microphone being keyed)

3:41 Center - Aircraft with emergency say again.

3:41 Center - Aircraft with emergency say again.

3:41 FDX705 - I've been wounded. We've had an attempted takeover on board the airplane. Give me a vector please back to Memphis at this time. Hurry.

3:41 Center - Express seven zero five fly heading zero niner five direct Memphis.

3:41 FDX705 - Alert the airport facility.

3:42 FDX705 - Hey Memphis, you still with me?

3:42 Center - Affirmative Express seven zero five. Yes sir.

3:42 Center - Express seven zero five, descend, maintain one zero thousand.

3:42 FDX705 - Listen. Hey Center (unintelligible sounds from cockpit). Center give me a heading to Memphis.

3:42 Center - Express seven zero five fly heading of zero niner zero vector direct Memphis.

3:42 FDX705 - Zero niner zero, roger. This is an emergency.

3:42 Center - Express seven zero five descend and maintain one zero thousand.

3:43 FDX705 - One zero thousand, OK. Keep me advised, where is Memphis?

3:43 Center - Express seven zero five, fly heading of zero niner zero and the airport's at 43 miles, 12 o'clock.

3:43 FDX705 - OK. Say my direction to Memphis.

3:43 Center - Express seven zero five, you're eastbound at this time, and it'll be about 12:30, one o'clock.

3:43 FDX705 - Look, just keep talking to me. OK?

3:43 Center - Express seven zero five affirmative. Need an ambulance standing by we'll get that for you.

3:43 FDX705 - OK. We need an ambulance and we need armed intervention as well.

3:43 Center - Express seven zero five descend and maintain five thousand.

3:43 FDX705 - Down to five thousand feet, roger.

[[ ARTCC calls Memphis Approach, to advise them of the situation. ]]

3:43 Center - Express seven zero five. We have an emergency. He's turning back direct Memphis. He had an attempted takeover. He is wounded at this time.

3:43 Approach - An attempted takeover?

3:43 Center - Affirmative. He's north of Forrest City [[ Arkansas ]] by about eight miles at this time. He's descending to one zero thousand.

3:43 Approach - OK. Radar contact and put him on nineteen one.

3:43 Center - He's requesting emergency medical assistance.

3:43 Approach - Thanks, radar contact.

[[ ARTCC controllers re-establish radio contact with the FedEx jet. ]]

3:43 Center - Express seven zero five, contact Memphis Approach on one one niner point one. They know about your emergency. They'll have lower for you and assistance.

3:44 Center - Express seven zero five, contact Memphis Approach on one one niner point one. They're aware of your emergency.

3:44 FDX705 - Request a single-frequency approach.

3:44 Center - A single-frequency approach. We'll pass that on - one one zero point one. Express seven zero five.

3:44 FDX705 - Nineteen point one . . .

3:45 Approach - Express seven zero five heavy, how do you hear?

3:45 (No response.)

[[ At this point ARTCC clears all other aircraft from the frequency, temporarily losing contact with the FedEx jet, and begin talking to each other. ]]

3:45 Approach - Yeah, did you ship seven zero five heavy?

3:45 Center - Affirmative. Nineteen one. He was on a ninety . . .

3:45 Approach - I don't know what's going on now. He's heading northeast bound, not talking to me.

3:45 Center - Yeah. He's been wounded. He sounds like he's in bad shape.

3:45 Approach - OK.

3:45 Center - If he comes back over I'll try and get him directed toward the airport.

3:45 Approach - Well, did they subdue the assailants or what?

3:45 Center - They're not sure. I heard some noise in the background, hollering. Sounded like he'd been, he said he'd been injured. He didn't say if he'd been shot. But he said he needed assistance towards the airport.

3:45 Approach - OK. If he comes back to you tell him to expect runway nine and put him on me.

3:45 Center - OK.

[[ No communications take place between FedEx Flight 705 and ARTCC controllers for over 95 seconds. The aircraft, still northwest of Memphis, turns northeast, then west, away from the airport. Then Capt. Sanders comes on the frequency. ]]

3:46 FDX705 - (Sanders) - Memphis, can you hear me?

3:46 Approach - Is this Express seven zero five heavy?

3:46 FDX705 - Seven oh five, yes.

3:46 Approach - Seven zero five, Memphis roger. I do hear you. You can proceed direct Memphis if able. Expect runway niner. Altimeter three zero two niner.

3:47 FDX705 - Do you understand we're declaring an emergency. We need Security to meet the airplane. We'll stop it on the runway if we can.

3:47 Approach - Express seven zero five heavy, that's affirmative. All that's been taken care of. Security will be available as well as medical assistance.

3:47 Approach - Express seven zero five heavy, proceed direct Memphis, descend at your discretion. And the localizer is on for runway niner.

3:48 FDX705 - We're headed that way now, I think.

3:48 Approach - Express seven zero five heavy, is the situation under control or is it still in progress?

3:48 FDX705 - We appear to have it under control.

3:48 Approach - Roger.

3:48 FDX705 - (Keys microphone)

3:48 FDX705 - Memphis seven oh five, understand we need some medical personnel to meet us, also.

3:48 Approach - Express seven zero five heavy, roger, that's being taken care of. They'll meet you there. 3:49 Approach - Express seven zero five heavy, are you able to turn toward the airport?

3:49 FDX705 - Yeah, give me a vector.

3:49 Approach - OK, express seven zero five heavy, fly heading one zero zero vectors Memphis.

3:49 FDX705 - We're turning toward the airport now.

3:49 Approach - Yeah, left turn, heading one zero zero.

3:49 FDX705 - One zero zero, express seven oh five.

3:49 FDX705 - Express seven oh five, I'm going to descend down to seven thousand, proceed into Memphis.

3:49 Approach - Seven zero five heavy, roger, descend at your discretion.

3:50 Approach - Express seven zero five heavy, if able you can pick up the localizer for runway niner and track it inbound.

3:50 FDX705 - Give me that frequency please.

3:50 Approach - Yeah, the runway niner localizer is one zero niner point five.

3:50 FDX705 - One oh nine five, thank you.

3:50 FDX705 - Zero eight nine inbound?

3:50 Approach - Affirmative.

3:50 Approach - Express seven zero five heavy, if able, when you can, I'd like to know your fuel on board and number of persons on board.

3:51 FDX705 - OK, we'll get to you in just a second.

3:51 Approach - Roger, no rush.

3:52 Approach - Express seven zero five heavy, is that localizer coming in now?

3:52 FDX705 - Yeah, we're on the localizer now, descending.

3:53 Approach - Roger. Are you on the visual? Do you want to shoot the ILS or just the visual?

3:53 FDX705 - I'll follow the ILS down and take a visual.

3:53 Approach - Roger, express seven zero five heavy, pilot discretion. Maintain two thousand and advise when you get the airport in sight.

3:53 FDX705 - Seven oh five, I'll advise.

3:54 Approach - OK, you're three one, thirty-one miles west of the airport.

3:54 FDX705 - Thank you, sir.

3:56 Approach - Express seven zero five heavy, you're about twenty-five miles from the airport and I'll be making a transmission to you every thirty, forty-five seconds, just to stay in touch.

3:57 Approach - Express seven zero five heavy, you're twenty miles from the airport. And do you have that fuel and passenger information?

3:58 FDX705 - We've got four on board, eighty-six, uh, eighty-five thousand I think on the fuel. Four souls.

3:59 Approach - Roger, express seven zero five heavy. How many people should security be looking for?

3:59 FDX705 - Four.

3:59 Approach - OK, I mean how many involved in the action?

4:00 FDX705 - Everybody has been injured. There's one person that lost it. The jumpseat passenger is the one that attacked the crew.

4:00 Approach - OK, thanks.

4:02 Approach - Express seven zero five heavy, verify the situation is still under control.

4:02 FDX705 - Well, it's sort of under control.

4:02 Approach - OK.

4:03 Approach - Express seven zero five heavy, you're fifteen miles from the airport, about fourteen miles. Advise when you get it in sight.

4:03 FDX705 - I have it in sight.

4:03 Approach - Express seven zero five heavy is cleared, visual approach runway niner. Express seven zero five heavy the wind is zero three zero at five, you are clear to land, runway niner.

4:03 FDX705 - Cleared to land.

4:03 Approach - Roger.

4:04 Approach - Express seven zero five heavy, you're about 6-1/2 miles from the threshold. If able, when you're on the ground, advise when you're on the ground. I won't make any more transmissions to you at this time.

4:04 FDX705 - (Keys mike to acknowledge.)

[[ At this point, the aircraft is still 4000' AGL and Sanders realizes that he's too high and fast to land straight in on runway 9. He turns right to enter a tight left downwind for runway 36L. Tower personnel reportedly later described the maneuver Sanders performed to turn base and align the heavy DC-10 with the runway as "damn near a split-S". ]]

4:05 FDX705 - I'm coming around to three six left.

4:05 Approach - OK, express seven zero five heavy; runway three six left. Clear to land. Cleared for visual approach runway three six left. You are clear to land. The wind is zero five zero at eight.

4:06 Approach - Express seven zero five heavy, all the emergency equipment will be on frequency one two one point niner.

4:06 FDX705 (Keys mike to acknowledge)

[[ FDX705 touches down at 200 knots, well over the normal landing speed. Nevertheless, Sanders brings the plane to an uneventful stop, with runway to spare and right on the runway center line. ]]

 

The struggle continued even as emergency workers enter the aircraft through the right side door emergency slide. Calloway was finally restrained by medical personnel with handcuffs borrowed from a police officer. Tucker and Peterson were critically injured, Tucker undergoing emergency surgery for a blood clot in his brain. Sanders suffered deep cuts and bruises. All three have since been released from the hospital. Calloway remains hospitalized, under armed guard, charged with performing an act of violence against an individual on a civil aircraft.

 

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