Passengers aboard an American Airlines Boeing 777 had their flight to New York cut short on Monday. Shortly into the journey from London Heathrow, the aircraft suffered a cracked pilot’s windshield and had to divert to Shannon on the west coast of Ireland.
On Monday 30 September, American Airlines flight AA-141 was forced to divert to Shannon Airport, Ireland, after suffering a cracked windshield. According to reports by the Aviation Herald, the 20-year-old American Airlines Boeing 777, registered N773AN, had 13 crew and 168 passengers aboard.
Having taken off from London Heathrow at around 7.48pm, the American Airlines Boeing 777 was flying at FL380, 90 nautical miles north-northeast of Shannon, when the incident occurred.
The flight was diverted to Shannon Airport, where it landed roughly 30 minutes later at 9.10 pm. There were no injuries to crew or passengers aboard the aircraft. Passengers were provided hotel rooms in nearby Clare and Limerick for the night.
A replacement American Airlines Boeing 777 was flown from New York to Shannon Airport to continue the flight, which arrived at its final destination 21 hours behind schedule. An American Airlines spokesperson responded to Simple Flying’s request for comment, saying,
“We never want to disrupt our customers’ travel plans, and we are sorry for the delay”.
Cracked windshields – a menace or a nuisance?
Incidents involving a cracked windshield are unusual considering the sheer number of flights that take off every day. But they’re not as rare as they may seem.
While a cracked windshield may sound like a serious incident, most aircraft which suffer this kind of incident in-flight are able to land safely, without incident.
Monday’s incident occurred onboard a 20-year-old Boeing 777. Aircraft of this age generally require more maintenance as components weaken and deteriorate.
However, many of the incidents involving broken windshields over the past few years have happened onboard Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a modern aircraft, first entering into commercial service in 2011.
Since 2012, there have been at least 26 separate incidents involving cracked windshields aboard Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
Despite the fact it is an expensive nuisance and costs a lot to repair, cracked windshields very rarely result in a complete breach of the cockpit and a loss of cabin pressure.
But United Airlines came under fire for reportedly attempting to cover up an incident involving a cracked windshield aboard one of its flights last year.
Shannon – a popular destination for diverted flights
Monday’s incident wasn’t even the first to result in an aircraft being diverted to Shannon Airport that day.
Earlier on Monday a Western Global Airlines freight MD-11F was forced to return to Shannon due to technical issues with its navigation system.
In fact, Shannon welcomes an unusually high number of diverted aircraft. Its position on the west coast of Ireland makes it an ideal airport for aircraft on the outwards leg of a journey to North America from Europe and the East.
As one of the last airports before the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, Shannon has welcomed many a frustrated passenger before.