Weather Radar Issue Prompts American Airlines A321 Diversion

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An American Airlines domestic flight unexpectedly diverted to Charlotte, North Carolina, on Monday. The Airbus A321-200 diverted due to problems with its weather radars. But the diversion proved just a quick hiccup for the plane which is now back flying in and out of American Airlines’ Charlotte hub.

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An American Airlines A321 diverted to Charlotte on Monday. Photo: Airbus

Weather radar problems force plane to divert

According to a report in The Aviation Herald, the aircraft, registered as N913US, was operating the scheduled AA1598 service from Philadelphia to Orlando on Monday. The aircraft had problems with its weather radars near Charlotte and decided to divert.

The aircraft landed at Charlotte Douglas International Airport at 17:17 local time. An unknown number of passengers and crew were on board. The passengers continued to Orlando on another aircraft.

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The flight diverted to Charlotte. Image: FlightRadar24.com

Plane back in the air and keeping busy

The aircraft, N913US, is one of American’s 240 Airbus A321s. This particular plane is only six years old. Along with American’s 328 Boeing 737s, these single-aisle jets form the backbone of American’s domestic flying around the United States. After 12 hours on the ground in Charlotte, N913US was back in the air the following morning and is covering the length and breadth of the United States over the next couple of days.

On Tuesday morning, the aircraft did a return trip to Dallas Fort Worth, operating as AA1979 and AA888, respectively. After a two hour turn-around in Charlotte, N913US is heading across to Las Vegas McCarran Airport and is scheduled to touch down early Tuesday evening, local time.

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On Wednesday, the plane will head back to Charlotte before making an evening flight to Seattle Tacoma International Airport. On Thursday, it’s back to Charlotte before squeezing in a return flight to Cyril E. King Airport at St Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands.

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An American Airlines A321-200. Photo: Tomas Del Caro via Wikimedia Commons

Diversion to busy American Airlines hub

This particular plane jets around out of American’s Charlotte hub. American Airlines has poured resources into the North Carolina airport. At the start of the year, Charlotte was American’s second busiest airport (after Dallas Fort Worth) and hosting over 700 departures a day. That was over 10% of all American Airlines’ daily network-wide departures.

American Airlines now parks its jets at 93 of the airports 114 gates, leaving little room for competitors to grow their operations there.

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As Sumit Singh reported in Simple Flying last year, American Airlines’ presence in Charlotte is because of a series of historical accidents and visionary locals. Long gone Piedmont Airlines had a base in Charlotte. Piedmont got swallowed up by US Airways (then known as US Air) in 1989. In turn, American Airlines merged with American Airlines in 2013. The US mega carrier inherited a decent presence at Charlotte and built on that.

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Charlotte Douglas Airport has become American Airlines’ second-busiest hub. Photo: Charlotte Douglas International Airport Newsroom

American Airlines is now the fifth largest employer in Mecklenburg County, the local government zone that takes in Charlotte. At the start of the year, American Airlines employed more than 12,000 people in the area and pumped $14 billion annually into the local economy.

“American is excited about our growth in Charlotte,” said Dec Lee, American’s Vice President of Charlotte Hub Operations last year.

With the travel downturn, things are a bit quieter at American’s Charlotte hub these days. But the bulk of American’s single-aisle planes are still flying. Some, like N913US, keep pretty busy. Issues with weather radars notwithstanding, American Airlines is keeping its planes and passengers moving.

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