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NTSB Will Investigate AA 757 Incident Over Atlantic

Smoke In Cockpit, Shattered Windscreen Resulted In Emergency Diversion

The National Transportation Safety Board says it will investigate the January 30 incident, in which an American Airlines B757-200 en route from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Philadelphia diverted to West Palm Beach, FL and made an emergency landing after the cockpit filled with smoke.

Of the 139 passengers and 7 crewmembers, several were transported to the hospital for smoke inhalation.  All have since been released.  No other injuries were reported. 

According to reports from the crew, while at cruise altitude over the Atlantic Ocean, smoke began emanating from the window heating system connected to the first officer's windshield. The crew donned oxygen masks and smoke goggles and diverted to Palm Beach International Airport.

As ANN reported, during the descent to land the inner pane of the first officer's windshield shattered (shown above). The crew continued the descent and landed without further incident.

The digital flight data recorder (DFDR) was downloaded and sent to the NTSB laboratories in Washington. The affected windshield, which remained in one piece, and the heating unit were removed from the aircraft and will undergo a detailed analysis.

While the cause of this particular incident is unknown and remains under investigation, the NTSB is aware of five events between 2004 and 2006 in which smoke, and in some cases fire, were reported to have originated from window heating systems in B-757 aircraft.

Based on these incidents, in September 2007 the NTSB issued two Safety Recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) asking the agency to require the installation of redesigned window heating systems in all Boeing 747, 757, 767, and 777 series aircraft. These Safety Recommendations have yet to be implemented by the FAA.

(Images courtesy of NTSB)

FMI: Read The NTSB's Recommendations (.pdf)

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