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Emergency Slide That Fell From Delta Flight Is Recovered From Queens Jetty

An emergency slide that fell from a Delta Air Lines flight just minutes after takeoff on Friday was recovered on Sunday along a jetty in a Queens neighborhood about six miles from Kennedy International Airport, officials said.

The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation said that Delta Air Lines had recovered “a large piece of debris” from the jetty near Beach 131st Street in Belle Harbor, southwest of the airport. Delta Air Lines said in a statement on Tuesday that it had retrieved the slide from the jetty.

It was unclear whether the slide had landed on the jetty, a small rock pier built to break apart waves, or it had washed up there.

The plane had just taken off from New York on Friday morning on a flight to Los Angeles when the crew saw a flight deck indication about a problem involving the emergency-exit slide on the right wing, according the airline. The crew also noticed a “non-routine” sound from that wing, the airline said.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which is investigating the episode, said in a statement that the flight, which was carrying 176 passengers as well as two pilots and five flight attendants, safely returned to J.F.K. around 8:35 a.m. on Friday “after the crew reported a vibration.” Delta said that the crew had declared an emergency with air traffic control. The plane was a Boeing 767-300ER, an older model that has been in service since the 1990s.

After the plane arrived at a gate, crews saw that the emergency slide was missing from the aircraft, according to the airline. Passengers on the flight continued to Los Angeles on a different plane.

“As nothing is more important than the safety of our customers and people, Delta flight crews enacted their extensive training and followed procedures to return to J.F.K.,” the airline said in a statement on Friday. “We appreciate their professionalism and our customers’ patience for the delay in their travels.”

Stephen O’Shea, of Belle Harbor, said he heard about the slide on Sunday from a group of friends and then checked for himself.

“I got my binoculars, and I looked,” he said, “and sure enough, there it was sitting out on the beach, hooked up to the side of the jetty, floating in the water.”

The slide had washed up along the jetty in a public part of the beach, Mr. O’Shea said, adding that he called Delta about the slide and said, “Your slide’s out here if you want to come get it.”

The jetty was built about six years ago to break apart waves during storms, Mr. O’Shea said, adding that it is about 30 feet wide and about 150 feet long.

A crew from Delta arrived later on Sunday with a pickup truck to retrieve the slide, Mr. O’Shea said. One of Mr. O’Shea’s neighbors, Jake Bissell-Linsk, who also saw the slide, is a lawyer at a law firm that filed a securities class-action suit against Boeing earlier this year.

“He’s probably getting a raise,” Mr. O’Shea joked.

Mr. Bissell-Linsk and his firm, Labaton Keller Sucharow, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Boeing is facing probing over the safety of its newer Boeing 737 Max jets. Two deadly crashes, one in Indonesia in 2018 and another in Ethiopia in 2019, exposed possible flaws in its flight-stabilization system.

An Alaska Airlines flight made an emergency landing in January after a fuselage panel blew off after takeoff, an event that could have been catastrophic had it happened at a higher altitude. The blowout has spurred a potential federal investigation, and questions about Boeing’s manufacturing.

The slide that fell from Delta was from an older Boeing model — a Boeing 767 that was manufactured in 1990, according to the F.A.A. registry. Airlines still count the model among their fleets, though some planes are nearing the end of their life span. American Airlines, for example, moved up the retirement of its fleet in 2020 when travel demand fell.

Boeing referred questions about the slide to Delta.

It is not the first instance of such slides falling off mid-transit and tumbling close to nearby residents. A slide from a 767 plane operated by United Airlines last July crashed into the roof of a home near O’Hare Airport in Chicago. Another slide from a Delta flight bound for Paris crashed in 2019 into a yard in Milton, Mass., not far from Boston Logan International Airport.

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