**Update 12/27/20 @ 16:25 UTC – A Southwest Airlines spokesperson shared further information about the incident; details below.**
There was a moment of frustration on Christmas Day for passengers and crew on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800 heading to Oakland, California from Honolulu, Hawaii. On December 25th, the narrowbody returned to its airport of departure after hearing unusual sounds from the direction of the windshield.
A quick occurrence
According to The Aviation Herald, the 737 involved held registration number N8328A and was performing flight WN-1278. 19 passengers and five crew members were on board when the incident happened.
The plane had a departure time of 14:25 local time. After hearing strange noises, crew stopped the aircraft’s climb at 14,000 feet and returned to Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. After that, the plane landed safely on runway 08L approximately 25 minutes after taking off earlier.
Handling the situation
Southwest organized for a replacement 737-800 to serve the delayed passengers. Subsequently, registration N8307K got the travelers to Oakland with a three-hour delay.
Ultimately, the captain took the decision to return to Honolulu on the first flight so the odd noises coming from N8328A’s windshield can be inspected. However, workers on the ground did not find any mechanical problems.
According to Planespotters.net, the aircraft arrived at Southwest’s faculties in December 2012. It holds Manufacturer Serial Number (MSN) 38818 and came straight from Boeing’s production site in Renton. It forms part of Southwest’s fleet of 732 737s.
Simple Flying reached out to Southwest Airlines for comment on the incident. A spokesperson for the carrier shared further details about what happened.
“In an abundance of caution, the Captain elected to come back about 20 minutes into the flight to allow mechanics to have a look at the multi-layered windshield in the cockpit where they were hearing an unusual noise. There were no mechanical issues with the aircraft and, yes, an emergency is always declared to allow any change in landing location from the original flight plan. We have no reported injuries in the uneventful landing,” the spokesperson told Simple Flying.
“Our Pilots are going to operate the flight with a different airplane and get those Customers to Oakland tonight about three hours behind schedule. I understand our great People there in the gates at HNL have ordered pizza and are helping get these Customers through the delay for which we apologize. We place nothing higher than their safety.”
Delayed but safe
This Southwest 737 was not the only aircraft that was diverted due to an incident during Christmas. An Aviastar Tupolev Tu-204 on its way to Moscow, Russia from Leipzig, Germany was diverted due to an autopilot failure.
Altogether, there were thankfully no tragic consequences from these incidents. Even if there is no serious issue with Southwest’s plane, any potential danger was averted and the passengers eventually left for their destination on the same afternoon.
There has been an increase in focus at Honolulu for Southwest recently. Last month, after a delay of nearly seven months, the carrier finally launched its service between San Diego and the Hawaii capital. The flights were supposed to start in April but were postponed due to the restrictions surrounding the global health crisis. The airline is evidently connecting Hawaii well with United States’ West Coast.
What are your thoughts about this Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 returning to Honolulu over a windshield issue? Have you experienced anything similar when flying over the years? Let us know what you think of the situation in the comment section.