A Dallas bound American Airlines plane had to make an emergency landing on Monday. The plane was forced to turn around and head back to San Francisco, where it had departed around 1:00 that afternoon. The Boeing 757 returned to San Francisco around 2:15 because an interior cabin panel in the passenger area came loose from the frame of the plane. The interior panel started to buck and separate, leaving a gap between the frame and the walls.
The trouble started when the air duct stopped working properly, which forced at least one interior panel to break away from the frame of the aircraft. Although there was a shift in the cabin pressure the oxygen masks stayed concealed because the aircraft did not lose enough pressure. The plane landed back in San Francisco safely with no other incidents. Once grounded, 184 passengers and six crew members were removed from the plane safely. Matt Miller, a spokes person for American Airlines said, “The plane will remain grounded till experts can access and correct the problem.”
Instead of flying the airplane to Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport, the American Airlines captain decided to turn around and make an emergency landing at the departing airport which was an hour away. He decided to change course after seeing the damage himself. His first reaction was to stay on course for Dallas. Although no one was injured and the plane landed safely on the ground, passengers were terrified. An American Airlines passenger, James Wilson, who was on the plane headed to Dallas/Fort Worth, said, “He heard a loud bang and then it sounded as if something was tearing.” That sound was the panels coming off the frame inside the passenger area of the plane. Wilson posted a picture of the bent wall on his Facebook page, he said, “Just in case something happened to the plane.”
American Airlines currently has 106 Boeing 757 planes in their fleet. AA uses the majority of these planes for domestic flights. The companies’ fleet of planes averages 13 years of age. AA is currently phasing out the 757 and in 2019 will retire the final plane. Boeing ended production on these planes in 2004. The company plans on replacing these aircrafts with Airbus models A321-200 and A321NEO. With seating for 185, they seat close in number to the current 575. The company states the aircrafts are the cleanest burning and lowest emission planes on the market.
Though it is concerning for passengers to see any part of a plane come undone while in the air, safety experts in aviation stated, “The walls holding up the panels are not connected to the actual frame of the aircraft and its structure.” The passengers were never in danger due to this unforeseen event. The passengers who were flown to the San Francisco airport due to the emergency landing were put up in hotel rooms courtesy of American Airlines and boarded a new plane that flew them to Dallas Tuesday morning.
By Paul Sears
Picture by Millerm217 – Flickr