The Federal Aviation Administration says an electrical component failed on American Eagle Flight 3400 Wednesday night, causing smoke to rise in the cockpit and the pilot to make an emergency landing.
The flight, which departed Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport bound for Quad Cities International Airport in Moline, Ill., diverted first to Tyler and then to Greenville after declaring an emergency shortly after takeoff.
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The pilot landed without incident, and none of the 45 passenger or crew of three were injured.
Mechanics were in and out of the aircraft, an Embraer ERJ-145, all day trying to determine what went wrong.
Thursday afternoon, the FAA said it was a "failed electrical component" in the cockpit that caused the smoke, though they did not elaborate further.
NBC 5 DFW Investigates found portions of the pilot's communications with Air Traffic Control, recorded by the website Broadcastify.com, where the pilot reported the smell of smoke.
"We've got smelling of electrical burn," the pilot said. The pilot then went on to describe the number of people onboard and the weight of fuel on the aircraft.
Twelve seconds after that, the pilot said they needed to land and wanted to divert to Tyler. Shortly after that, they asked to land at an even closer airport in Greenville.
During a crucial four-minute period, the pilot reduced the altitude of the aircraft from 21,900 feet to 8,800 feet.
One passenger, a reporter named Tiffany Liou, talked exclusively with NBC 5. She said some passengers smelled smoke, the pilots made an abrupt U-turn with the plane and the flight attendant made an announcement. “’I need everyone to listen up’ and he was really serious," said Liou.
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NBC 5 spoke to an aviation expert who explained planes generally descend at a rate of about 1,500 feet per minute, but the American Eagle pilot was descending at more than 2,500 feet per minute.
"The crew did a very good job. They got the airplane on the ground as soon as they could ... and then they worried about what was wrong. It may not have been that serious, but they don't know that they are not mechanics," said Denny Kelly, aviation expert.
American Eagle said the two pilots and the flight attendant are already back on the job.
NBC 5's Kendra Lyn contributed to this report.