November 19th, 2010
09:19 AM ET

Passenger on windshield crack: How can it happen?

On a Delta flight from Atlanta, Georgia to Orange County, California the captain came on the loud-speaker saying there was a problem in the cockpit – the cockpit windshield had cracked - and they needed to make an emergency landing in Dallas/Ft. Worth.

Passenger Mike Fleming was on the flight, updating his Facebook status while it was happening and took a photo of the damaged windshield. Fleming  spoke to American Morning’s Kiran Chetry about the sudden emergency situation at 34,000 feet mid-air.

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soundoff (411 Responses)

    The windscreens on commercial jets can survive bird hits and ice hits...a crack wouldn't have caused a catastrophic air disaster. The damage would have come from news reports that don't represent the facts on the composition and fabrication of the glass in front of the pilots eyes. The damage would've been PR related (most likely).

    November 19, 2010 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. RightTurnClyde

    Seems like every day there is ONE MORE reason not to ply. Parts break suggests cutting costs of maintenance (engines caught fire in Australia). Scanner Xrays (bad if frequent), ticket mistakes (and credit card disputes), nasty employees, nasty flight crews (overworked) sick passengers coughing, babies crying, cramped space, too few toilets, baggage thugs, baggage losses, TSA rudeness, parking gestapo (move-move), car rental mix-ups and charges (tollway tickets for days I wasn't there), Expedia messes, Price Line messes ... urrgh .. I don't need it. No more for me. Drive or AMTRAK or not going.

    November 19, 2010 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • RB

      Never ply

      November 19, 2010 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. J- pick

    I am not a pilot but I am an idiot- so I am pretty sure you are all right

    November 19, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. J- pick

    I am not a pilot but I am an !d!ot- so I am pretty sure you are all correct

    November 19, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |

    This can happen for a variety of reasons but usually it has to do with the windshield heat controller failing. Its really no big deal

    November 19, 2010 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. D

    How exactly does a passenger take a picture of the cracked window in flight?

    November 19, 2010 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. This reminds me of a funny story

    When I was a pilot in the Air Force flying B52s out of Wichita KS, we were doing a run over Incheon once and I was under and behind my buddy Big Al who was leading the strike force (don't worry it was practice we weren't carrying live rounds) We were kind of bored so I dared him to open the vent window do i say this nicely,,,deficate on Korea. Well the darndest thing happens, I get hit in the windshield with, you guessed it. I could see the peanuts. Well it obviously didn't crack the window like you think it did, but it made the flight home a very sickening experience. That is all. Over and Out.

    November 19, 2010 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Imnotapilot but I playoneonCNNcomments

    Very routine incident hardly worthy of a special the way Windshields are always replaced after an incident like this before they are allowed to take off again, the pilot doesn't want a ticket for obstructed windshield anymore than you wan to die in an explosive decompression incident. That is all. Over and out.

    November 19, 2010 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • opinionguru

      ...copy traffic.

      November 20, 2010 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
  9. afflyer

    It was likely just one layer of the windshield that cracked. The A/C didn't rapid decompress, so the integrity of the windshield wasn't completely compromised and no one was in any danger. Happened to me while I was in the air force on a 707 platform, and I'm still alive to talk about it. A lot worse happens that passengers will never hear about... and would probably scare the crap out of them too.

    November 19, 2010 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. dnokey

    This is so stupid. Report on some real news you CNN f.cks.!

    November 19, 2010 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. teepee

    What was the guy doing updating his Facebook page on an airplane??

    November 19, 2010 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mr. Enamel

    I had a cracked tooth a few years ago. I didn't descend at all. I guess I like to live dangerously.

    November 19, 2010 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JoeMech

    This has happened fairly often in my 20 year career as an a/c mech.This is not a big deal. I've changed these windshields on DC-10's (when I used to work overhaul maintenance) and they are 2-3 inches thick made of several plies with heating elements layered in between. The most common cause of a crack is a malfunctioning window heat system. Pilots train for rapid D quite often and most go their whole career and never experience an actual rapid D. Why this crack has been made such a big deal is beyond me. I've worked for union shops and non union shops and in this industry I call it a necessary evil. On average union shops make more money than non union and have much better working conditions. Not to get off on a tangent, but working for a certain unnamed small non-union airline, I've been ASKED to do some things that are let's say unethical. The kind of unethical things you hear (and don't hear about) in non-union China (lead based paint being used on toys, chineese drywall, signing for work not accomplished). If the public only knew. The decline of the middle class is directly related to the decline of unions. I'm not saying that unions are all great but the benefits far outweigh the problems. Anybody that claims the unions are the cause of all of our problems is seriously delirious. The stereotype of the union worker who reads the paper and takes breaks all day is grossly exhaggerated. In my union job with a major airline I'm not allowed to read the paper even on my break! I don't however have to worry about not getting a promotion becuase I was not a team player and refused to sign for FAA mandated inspections that were never accomplished. I don't have to worry about finding a new job because I wrote up a mechanical discrepancy that costs the company money to fix. These things happen people! Get Real! The trend of airlines farming out their maintenance to countries where there is very little Faa oversight, no drug testing, employees not required to hold a license, security that is almost laughable, employees performing complex procedures with maintenance manuals only written in English and not being able to read English is a far more newsworthy item than a cracked windshield. We are a reactioinary society and will only hold hearings and investigations when it goes too far. In my opinion, we are almost there.

    November 19, 2010 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jeff

    This is the kind of News that Heraldo used to thrive on. Too bad CNN reports on things they havent researched, thought about or have the least bit of technical clue. Simply causeing panic again, But then I guess we're short of Hurricanes, earthquakes etc. this week. Good that Bird Flu is back, that ought to keep news up for a few days.

    November 19, 2010 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jerry

    Windshield just cracked all on its own? What was it, a flying Chevy???

    November 19, 2010 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
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