Shattered Glass: Or, This Morning's Question for AA's Tim Wagner

Saw this morning where an American Airlines flight, from Dallas/Fort Worth International on its way to Fort Myers, Florida, made an emergency landing last night back at DFW "after a window pane broke and was ingested into one of the plane's engines." Which sounds bad. Of course, the windows are three panes thick, which meant the cabin didn't lose pressure. Still, it probably scared the shit outta the passengers, who were greeted with oxygen masks descending from the cabin ceiling.

So, this morning, I asked AA spokesman and Friend of Unfair Park Tim Wagner: When is the last time a window shattered on an AA flight and disabled an engine? His response? After the jump.

Nobody here can ever remember it happening before. I have been working on our submission to the Carbon Disclosure Project this morning, so I don't know much about that flight.

I guess it should be noted that each window has multiple, separate panes of glass so that depressurization is prevented if one pane shatters like this incident. And, all of our airplanes are designed to be flown on one engine if necessary -- and all of our pilots are trained, and then recurrently trained, in flying and landing airplanes on one engine. So, that's why the captain was able to land this one without incident.

This would be similar to a "bird strike." That's where a bird gets sucked into an engine and damages it (aka. a "compressor stall"), so the engine has to be shutdown and the flight returns to the ground as soon as possible. Oh, and this was on an MD-80 which has the rear engines -- unfortunately putting them in the position to ingest that window. All of our other planes have wing-mounted engines.

Which, of course, brings us to our next question: How's that Carbon Disclosure Project report coming, anyhow? And do you want me to wait till Dear American Airlines is in paperback, or you want it now? --Robert Wilonsky

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky