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)
  1. Nel Harris

    Dern gravel trucks. Never fly behind one.

    November 19, 2010 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  2. Adam Nelson

    Windshield cracked in a airplane how did it happen ? Who did it ? Or how it happened ?

    November 19, 2010 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  3. popeye

    Following that gravel truck a bit too closely I'd say.

    November 19, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  4. AngryMat

    Why is this a story? The windshield is made out of glass and glass can break! What is so surprising about it?

    November 19, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  5. LouAz

    Duh, why is every thing in the news an EMERGENCY ? No one was hurt in the quick descent from 34K to 10K, so the cabin pressure was not an issue after that. An "unscheduled" landing after the incident was handled just like any other landing at DFW, although they might have been looking for a place to park with a jetway to let the passengers off. A good flight crew did what they do. There is no attempt to determine the level of "danger" by anyone in the "news" business anymore. Seems they all want to be the National Enquirer.

    November 19, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • vladchan

      Must be a real slow news day...

      November 19, 2010 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  6. Josh083194

    wow Facebook managed to get into the news again

    November 19, 2010 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jeff

    This happened to me when I was in the USAF– C-130 at 25,000 feet. I was the navigator. Windshield just spiderwebbed.

    Just got on Oxygen, buckled in tight, slowed down, and landed!

    The repair did take a few days as the caulk around the windshield took 48 hours to cure, if I recall correctly.

    Not that big of a deal, really


    November 19, 2010 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  8. bigwave dave


    November 19, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  9. arobin4

    what is the significance of being below 10,000 feet?

    November 19, 2010 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      The aircraft must be pressurized above 10,000 feet to avoid oxygen starvation to the passengers and crew (hypoxia). Below 10,000 feet, the aircraft is de-pressurized which relieves the internal pressure on the multi-layered window- preventing further damage.

      November 19, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. 513kid

    Just a heads up...this is actually quite common on commercial flights. The windshield heaters malfunction and the temperature differences fractures one laminate in the windshield. There is never any danger to crew or pax. The BA incident was a case of the wrong bolts used tosecure the wind screen.

    November 19, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  11. Tom

    Now that's some hard-hitting journalism: "the last thing you want to see is cracks in the windshield on a flight". I'd think more likely a wing falling off or the groud approaching at 150+ mph. If you can't think of anything informative to say.....

    November 19, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. John

    Aircraft windshields are made of multiple-layered safety glass (normally a polyvinyl layer sandwiched between 2 sheets of safety glass). They are designed as a "fail-safe" item, meaning that the pressurization of the aircraft alone is not enough to rupture the window even after a single pane is compromised as in this event.

    An aircraft window is heated to very high temperatures to avoid ice formation. This creates the chance that the glass pane can fail due to a rapid temperature change. A malfunction of the window heat circuitry or an inherit defect in the glass pane from the manufacturing process can also cause a failure such as this.

    I have worked for 15 years in the airline maintenance field and have seen incidents such as this from time-to-time. Again- this is why the engineers designed it as a fail-safe system.

    November 19, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gary

      Agreed. As I said a few minutes after your post, this is only news because the media blew it out of proportion.

      November 19, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tim

    Everyone needs to get facts straight. First the British airways flight did not have a cracked windshield. The windshield itself came unattached due to a faulty instalation with wrong screws. Second. Their are 3 layers of windshield and each pane stronger than the others. When the windshield cracks which is usually due to faulty windshield heat. Only one pane cracks leaving the other two intact. No danger to the crew, aircraft, or passengers. And yes, i am an airline captain and it has happened to me before

    November 19, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yeah You Failed

      You're a pilot and can't spell? I think not.

      November 19, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Fail

    I sure am glad the pilot had his priorities straight. Facebook first, save people second.

    November 19, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yeah You Failed

      What part of this story indicated to you the PILOT was on Facebook? Idiot.

      November 19, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Johnny Johnson

    This is not a story. Windscreens on all commercial aircraft are of a double-pane construction. The routinely crack due to heating and cooling. Plus if installed against the frame incorrectly it will cause a crack.

    But our wonderful media has to show how everything is dangerous.

    November 19, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
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