Narrative:About 70 to 80 nautical miles east northeast of JFK, at an altitude of FL380 the auto-pilot disconnected. The captain then elected to hand fly the airplane and observed that the control wheel would not move in the lateral or roll axis (ailerons) of the airplane. However, the control wheel was free to move in the longitudinal axis (elevator), and the rudder pedals were free to move about the yaw axis. The captain declared an emergency and requested a long approach to runway 31L at JFK. Post-flight examination of the airplane revealed ice had encased multiple control cables in the wheelwell area, including both aileron, and flap control cables. Further examination revealed that a potable water line, aft of the lavatory, adjacent to door 3R, had become disconnected and the bays beneath the floor boards contained water. The number 1 and 2 potable water bottles, each with a capacity of 63 gallons, were reported to be at 12
percent capacity, and empty, respectively.
PROBABLE CAUSE: "A leak of potable water onto the lateral (aileron) flight control cables, and flap extension cables, which subsequently froze them in place. An additional cause was the improper procedures used by mechanics for floorboard removal which stretched the rubber hose, and led to the leak, all due to the manufacturer's lack of guidance in the maintenance manuals on floorboard removal."
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not
display the exact flight path.
Distance from Milano-Malpensa Airport to New York-John F. Kennedy International Airport, NY as the crow flies is 6367 km (3980 miles).