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)

    Probably caused by one of those gravel planes that didn't have his load covered.

    November 21, 2010 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Choppinmama

    Once an editor, always an editor........ it's DUCT tape, not duck...........

    and, on an episode of one of those true life stories, a commercial plane's windshield partially blew out, sucked the pilot halfway out. Somebody hung onto his legs until the plane could land and the pilot actually survived. They traced the problem back to the windshield that had been cracked, replaced, but the maintenance guy eyed the size of the replacement screws, used ones that were micrometers too small, and the windshield didn't hold in the frame after it was airborne for a few flights.

    Heck, yeah, I'd be afraid of a cracked windshield...........and it's aftermath!

    November 21, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Xmech

    over torquing the screws that hold the window in place has been known to crack windows in the aircraft.

    November 21, 2010 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JENNY


    November 22, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • the thinker

      What basis would you have for a lawsuit? If you really tried to sue I suspect that your case would be thrown out, you'd have to pay the airline's legal fees, and you'd be laughed at on national news broadcasts. ... not hating, just saying.

      November 22, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Ah...the American Way...sue everyone you can no matter how stupid the reason...

      November 25, 2010 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Atleast it's not old. No news is good news?!!!

      November 27, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Patrick

    This near tragedy could have been avoided if only the TSA had performed full body cavity searches of all passengers and crew prior to boarding.

    November 23, 2010 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Arglebargle

      Yeah...the TSA is well-versed in examining cracks.

      November 23, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zakattack

      You know, I think the anger towards the TSA is way overblown, but Arglebargle's response was awesome!

      December 9, 2010 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  6. Howard

    The more likley cause is moisture shorting the heating element. The heating element is a thin metal foil between the window laminates. Moisture can short out the element if the sealant around the windscreen panel breaks down. The reason for the emergency decent to below 10,000 ft, is so the aircraft can be depresurized, which reduces the forces on the remaining layers of the windscreen.

    November 23, 2010 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jonathan Baker

    I get the impression from the way this is written that this Fleming fellow took a picture of the cracked windscreen while the aircraft was in flight....what?????

    November 23, 2010 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Stephanie

      His first words were "I got the picture as I was walking off the plane"... The pilot said they could come up and look

      That might be a small clue as to how he took the photo... Just a guess on my part mind you!!

      November 23, 2010 at 4:37 am | Report abuse |
  8. SnazzyGirl

    Pilot wanted to stop at a bar in Dallas for happy hour.

    November 23, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Amy C

    I am a pilot for a major airline.

    This is a typical over blown airline story. Yes, the windshield (which is heated, and double paned) can in fact crack. Usually just on the inside or the outside pane, not both. At that point, out of an overabundance of concern for you, the travelling public, we land at a nearby airport. This is a "precautionary" landing, not an emergency.
    It's like pulling over at a rest stop when something is not quite right with your car.

    Be happy we're looking out for you. And rest assured that we, the pilots, will not fly a plane that we think is unsafe.
    For our own sakes, as well as yours.

    November 23, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert A.M. Stephens

      Good. A voice of reason and source, in the noise of the inane. Thank you.

      Robert A.M. Stephens, LLC
      Scaled Dynamics
      NASA Visual Exploration
      Pan America
      Have Jeep, Have Heart, Will Travel

      November 25, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • toxictown

      Exactly. These are big complicated machines with lots of stress and strain and sometimes minor things happen.

      January 3, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Globalish

    The window heat system overheated. I've seen it before. Serious, but not that serious.

    November 24, 2010 at 3:55 am | Report abuse |
  11. Government Pilot

    Good evening. I am a captain within a government flight department. Cracked windshields on any aircraft are not a major safety concern. Trust me. The windows are made up of layers of material that promote the utmost safety. People tend to get worked up about these issues due to a lack of knowledge. Do not worry, the aircraft is still perfectly safe, despite a cracked window. Yes, a descent will be initiated, this is completely normal. The crew aboard this aircraft worked well together. There was never any real danger to the passengers.

    November 25, 2010 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Uh-huh

      We have a Government Flight Department? Which one? lol you sound like a goob.

      November 29, 2010 at 6:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Knightly Q. Blowguns

      Hey, Mr. Uh-huh, ever hear of the FAA, or perhaps the Air Force? Or is your only response to Government Pilot to undermine his or her credibility since I noticed you didn't attack the statement at all?

      November 30, 2010 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
    • JAY

      Knightly – look at hs name. Uh-Huh. What does that tell you about the IQ level? It must have taken him all night to think that one up.

      November 30, 2010 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • oilfeilds

      im sorry to say this is just another way how some pple find cause to sue somebody.they never actually sit down and say to them self im alive for my husband my kids and we gona be together for xmas and im going wake up every morning and still see the sunshine. life is a gift and some times pple only want to see the worst in some that went very well in what that pilot did. he used his education and his sense of caring for those pple to do what he felt was right.he acted and followed through.. some pple need to do that even coming to man made things.

      December 13, 2010 at 5:04 am | Report abuse |
  12. Steph

    Did this crack happen while in the air or was it already there when they took off and noone noticed it?

    November 26, 2010 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      There was a big ol' hole in it and they didn't see it until all that there wind started a-blowin' through, you silly thing.

      November 26, 2010 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  13. Manny

    Was there another plane in front of this one, carrying a load of gravel ? Was the second plane staying at least 100 feet back from it ?

    November 26, 2010 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  14. Phil

    I have it all figured out. On takeoff the plane ahead of the plane in question did a break-stand and then spun its wheels, sending gravel backward at the windshield and cracking it.

    November 26, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mike

    Another case of the news media trying to make a news story out of nothing at all.

    November 27, 2010 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
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