An Air Astana Embraer E190 operating a ferry flight from Portugal to Minsk, Belarus, was subject of a severe flight control issue. The aircraft departed the maintenance facility in Alverca at approximately 13:30Z. 5 minutes after takeoff, the aircraft was reportedly flying erratically, with uncontrollable speed, altitude and direction. At one time, it was reported that the aircraft dropped over 6000 feet in just under 2 minutes.
During the ordeal, the flight crew managed to declare a Mayday to the local air traffic control center. He also managed to change the aircraft squawk code to 7700, indicating a general emergency. Two F-16 fighter jets from the Portuguese Air Force were scrambled to intercept the aircraft. One of the fighter jet pilots reported the aircraft as “out of control”.
Miraculously, the pilots of the E190 managed to manipulate the aircraft controls enough that they were able to land a Beja airport, just outside of Lisbon.
Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt in the incident, however 3 of the 6 crew members were treated for minor injuries. The suspected culprit of the incident is a failure of hydraulics.