On Thursday, two separate incidents involving smoke in the cabin affected Delta and SkyWest aircraft, with both planes forced to return to their airport of departure. An A319-100 operated by Delta turned back around and landed at Austin, while a SkyWest-owned Canadair CRJ-700 had to make a hasty landing at Fort Wayne.
Delta flight DL-1062 from Austin to Seattle
A Delta flight from Austin, TX to Seattle, WA, was forced to turn around and land at Austin less than an hour after taking off. Flight DL-1062 departed from Austin Bergstrom International at 06:06 CST before the crew immediately reported a smoky odor in the cabin. The plane circled back and had touched down at the airport by 07:02, spending a total of 55 minutes in the air.
There were 29 people onboard the flight, which was subsequently canceled and all passengers rebooked on different flights. The plane was an Airbus A319-100, registration N330NB, which Delta has been operating since 2008. According to PlaneSpotters, the plane is almost 20 years old and started off life under Northwest Airlines in 2001.
A Delta spokesperson later clarified events in a statement:
“Delta flight 1062 from Austin to Seattle, returned to Austin out of an abundance of caution after a smoky odor was observed in the cabin. The flight landed safely without incident. Nothing is more important than the safety of our customers and employees.”
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SkyWest Flight AA-3087 from Fort Wayne to Dallas/Fort Worth
The second incident of the day happened just half an hour later onboard SkyWest flight AA-3087, operated on behalf of American Airlines. The CRJ-700 took off from Fort Wayne at 07:38 EST en route to Dallas/Fort Worth International. However, once the plane reached 10,000ft, the crew reported smoke and turned back around to make an emergency landing at Fort Wayne International.
The SkyWest flight was able to touch down a lot sooner than the Delta plane, landing less than half an hour later at 08:06. The aircraft was a CRJ-701ER, registration N730SK, which is presently owned by airline American Eagle but operated by SkyWest.
The plane is almost 16 years old and has been operated by SkyWest throughout its entire service history. A replacement CRJ-700 was arranged, which arrived at the airport over five hours later.
How dangerous is smoke in the cabin?
Incidents involving smoke filling up the cabin aren’t all that rare, with several incidents happening each month. In almost all cases, planes can divert and make an emergency landing without any further consequences. However, passengers and crew can, in some cases, suffer ill-health due to smoke inhalation. In one incident, a First Officer onboard a British Airways flight was left feeling unwell after fumes entered the cockpit and needed an oxygen mask.
In one unusual incident, smoke from a wildfire in Colorado ended up in a Delta plane’s cockpit, forcing an emergency landing. In fact, the aircraft was over 4,000KM away in Newfoundland, Canada, but smoke from the wildfire traveled the huge distance via jetstream. A different kind of smoke – cigarette smoke – can also cause a diversion, as one unruly passenger found out after lighting up a cigarette onboard a WestJet flight.
Have you ever experienced smoke in the cabin on a flight? Let us know in the comments.