Earlier this month, a Brazilian domestic flight operated by Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras experienced a cracked windshield. This impacted the aircraft’s cabin pressure, forcing the ATR 72’s crew to make a rapid descent to avoid further issues. But how exactly did the incident play out, and what has happened to the aircraft involved since?
Flight AD4675 is a 90-minute domestic hop operated by Brazilian regional carrier Azul. It serves the cities of Belém (BEL) and São Luís (SLZ), in Brazil’s north-east. Local low-cost carrier GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes also has a presence on this corridor. FlightRadar24.com reports that, on November 14th, the flight departed on schedule at 07:45 local time.
By 08:26 local time, the flight had climbed to a cruising altitude of 19,000 feet (FL190), and was around halfway to São Luís. At this point, the aircraft experienced a cracked windshield, according to The Aviation Herald. This also affected its cabin pressure, and, as such, the crew elected to make a rapid descent to a safer altitude. They also declared ‘PAN PAN.’ This message represents a situation that is urgent but poses no immediate danger to anyone’s life or the aircraft itself.
Six minutes later, at 08:32 local time, the flight had descended to 10,000 feet (FL100). It continued to cruise at this altitude until 08:51, while the pilots ran through the necessary safety checklists. Following this procedure, flight AD4675 descended into São Luís as planned, landing safely on runway 06 eight minutes early at 09:07.
The aircraft involved
The aircraft that operated flight AD4675 on November 14th was an ATR 72-600 with the registration PR-AKI. According to Planespotters.net, this aircraft is just over four years old. Azul took delivery of it in February 2018, with its previous owners having been leasing company Nordic Aviation Capital. Azul Uruguay had the opportunity to lease the aircraft from NAC, but ultimately did not take it up.
There are 33 ATR 72 aircraft in Azul’s fleet, of which 26 are currently operational, and seven are grounded. The flight was close to capacity, carrying 61 passengers and four crew members. According to SeatGuru, Azul’s ATR 72 aircraft have a 70-seat all-economy configuration, with a pitch of 31 inches.
What has occurred since the incident?
Brazil’s ‘Aeronautical Accidents Investigation and Prevention Center’ (CENIPA) reported that, although the incident did not require further investigation, the aircraft had sustained minor damage. As such, Azul canceled the day’s return flight back to Belém, AD4680.
According to FlightRadar24.com, PR-AKI has remained on the ground since the incident. However, it is rostered to operate flight AD9800 from São Luís back to Belem later today. It remains to be seen whether this will happen. However, should the aircraft return to service on this flight, the departure is scheduled for 19:00 local time.
Have you ever flown with Azul? How do you find the ATR 72 compares to other regional aircraft? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.