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. CptnReza

    Please give CNN your phone number so we all can use your Aviation related expertise!

    November 19, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Pat

    So this guy was updating his facebook while on a plane? Was he using an electronic device that isn't supposed to be used while the plane is in the air?
    Oh, Delta sucks. 20 hours in Tokyo's airport because they couldnt fix an engine. Kept us on the plane until immigration went home so they wouldnt have to put us in a hotel. I can see why they were voted the worst airline!!!

    November 19, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joeytwotoes

    Obamma called a news conference at 2PM to alert the nation to this problem. It would have been at 1PM but he was getting his free coffee at Burger King

    November 19, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JB

    Burger King has free coffee?

    November 19, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. SEL

    Never mind. I watched the video.

    November 19, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Matt

    Being an Aircraft Mechanic I can tell you this happens all the time and isnt that big of a deal. Its usually caused by Pilot error leaving the windshield heat switch on for to long. Nothing that CNN needs to report on thats for sure.

    November 19, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Hasan

    Was the windshield that was cracked a 1080p or 720p LED screen? Cause bestbuy can fix that.

    November 19, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Hasan

    NVM I read this wrong lol

    November 19, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aircraft101

      The aircraft is pressurized. So having a crack will have a potentional of becoming worse then not being able to see something in it's path.

      November 19, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      I flew in the USAF for 10 years and having a cracked windscreen is NOT a big issue (over a 10 year period, I prob had 10-15 cracked windshields across hundreds of airframes), yes you need to go to the next airfield to get it fixed. But it is not changing the integrity of the windshield...this IS NOT A BIG DEAL...not even news worthy!!

      November 19, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elduderino315


      November 19, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • mohawk067

      Special Pilot is a computer pilot

      November 19, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      I was a Navy pilot and experienced several "cracked" windshields. Modern aircraft windshields are made up of numerous layers of materials with plastic laminate between layers. Much like your car, they are designed to take a "head on" shot from an object (bird normally) and not breech. Normally only one layer cracks and it is not a big deal. Once in the 90's we had no replacement windshields at the end of a 6 month cruise and I flew an airplane with a cracked windshield from the Philippines to San Diego with duck tape covering a crack from the bottom to top (yes, another use for duck tape). Also, you talk to "center" following takeoff or until landing. Tower controls only the airfield takeoffs and landings. The news media is over dramatizing these type of events without any knowledge of what they are talking about.

      November 19, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • President Uno Did it!

      I think Biden had his feet up on the dash again if I've told him once I've told him a thousand times.

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

      To "Aircraft 101" here is a little English 101 for you: it's=it is. to indicate possesion use its!!!!

      November 19, 2010 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Simian

      Cracked windshield isn't a big deal. Having to sitt next to a goat on a three hour flight is. Now why don't they check people for bad body odor like these pat checks?

      November 20, 2010 at 2:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Diane

      So that's where crack comes from..

      November 20, 2010 at 2:55 am | Report abuse |
  9. Special Pilot

    Folks – this stuff happens all the time. There are several issues on EVERY flight that you never hear about. If you knew what was going on in the background, you would probably never fly. Several times the landing gear fails as well as main instruments. That's we we are in constant communication with the tower.

    November 19, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stevo

      By "tower" you hopefully mean your flight's dispatcher.

      November 19, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      I highly doubt you're a pilot.....

      November 19, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elihu Smails

      Guess you read last month's Reader's Digest too, huh?

      November 19, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobington

      Oh someone wants to feel smart!

      November 19, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • erica

      I agree, there are so many things that go on that most people never hear of, because they are taken care of and resolved before they ever become an issue. I remember when I started my flight training listening to the radio convo's between planes on final and the tower about stuck landing gear, fuel levels, bird strikes, all sorts of odd little things that cound have turned into large issues, and never hearing once about an accident later on that day in the news. Most people who arent trained in the aviation community freak out over small things that are common, and pilots are trained on how to handle.

      November 19, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • HPKB

      The tower? What is it? I hope they mean ATC, and if something is going wrong all the time you need to change jobs, Our aircraft don't break all the time.

      November 19, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • alex

      @alypilot, couldnt of said it better myself. =)

      November 19, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • MeowMix96

      IF YOU were in CHINA, you would be doing hard labor in a Gulag, My FRIEND. Your just inciting social instability.

      November 19, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Victor Vector

      The Tower?! Rapunzel! Rapunzel!

      November 19, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • yacker01

      No, I don't think he meant the "tower" or flight "dispatcher", though the "tower" is more correct. He should have said "air traffic controller". But in the grand scheme of things, who cares.

      November 19, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • zooompilot

      No. Things don't go wrong on every flight. You don't stay in contact with the tower because the tower would have handed you over to departure who would have handed you over to center...unless of course all you do is fly around the airport. Problems on the flight deck are the exception to the rule since we can fly 4 day trips, 5 legs a day and the worse thing will usually be that we don't have enough meals on board to feed the standby passengers they just crammed onto the plane. You are no more a pilot than I am the Queen of England.

      In almost twenty years, the worse thing to happen was long ago when we lost A and B hydraulics on a 727-200. Since the systems are redundant with a pneumatic backup e safely landed without the passengers even knowing. Other than that the weather causes far more issues than any aircraft system and the only thing the passengers have to worry about is that we are number 27 for the runway.

      November 19, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • SpecialEdPilot

      I must first point out that I am not a real pilot, but I play on on TV.

      Murphy's Law only applies if everything is left to chance. Even us make-believe pilots don't leave anything to chance. Once a great while, we might forget something, or someone on the ground forgot something, and we forgot to check if they remembered. The AC folks in Ground and Tower don't check to macke sure we've all done our respective checking and re-checking. They assume everything on the plane is squared away; it's our responsibility to tell them if it's not, and request their assistance. The AC's job is basically to help ensure we don't run into anybody or anything on the way up, over, or down. The point is, there are so many people checking and rechecking at so many levels that the likelihood something can go wrong is so low that air travel still remains the safest way to travel, even with well over a billion passengers flying each year. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight!

      November 19, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gingerpeach

      Well I fly like once every 5 or 6 years and the last 2 times I flew (last was 2 weeks ago) I was sreached, body pat, everything in carry on was searched, good thing I was at the airport early.Also I am 66 years old and chuncky, so there goes the "they body search the good looking females. Anyway we were going to one city and were to we would be landing in another because the landing gear warming light came on (we just had a bumpy ride) and we needed to land in the other airport because they had a way ti fix the plane but not to worry everything was fine and the warning light was wrong ( so why can't we land in our airport) And the time before that we had the worst time ever! out of Denver! I guess we had tornados the pilot came on saying wow that was the bumpest I ever had but the plane is ok (I'm thinking how the heck do you KNOW it's ok maybe some nuts and bolts came undone? but we landed safe then too. So I'd say yes, lots of things happen in flight.

      November 19, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • KPilot75

      If you all were a little smarter you'd realize that Special Pilot just had to dumb down his comments so those of lesser intelligence could understand them.

      Duh..what's ATC mean? Ain't that cute? LOL!! ROFL!!

      November 19, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duh

      Funny, while I'm not a pilot I work in direct contact with them on a daily basis. I also talk with ATC all day long and we refer to them as "Tower". I even answer the phone addressing them as tower. Even the pilots called them tower. Most military pilots use the term tower as a general description. Maybe he didn't want to describe the whole hand-off process. This doesn't mean he is not a pilot. BTW, we get IFE's quite often, so maybe not every plane has an issue but it is definitely normal. Give the guy a break!

      November 19, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Six

      I don't see myself flying anyway, so I'll never have to worry about it! LOL

      November 19, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry

      I was an air traffic controller for 20 years. "Staying in constant contact with the tower" is completely false. Tower communication is around 2% – 3% of the entire flight. The vast majority of communication time is with enroute (or radar) and has nothing to do with the tower. I suspect this writer has never flown, much less piloted an aircraft...sad and somewhat pathetic.

      November 19, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cuyler

      I've no doubt you're a "Special Pilot"...I bet you fly on the short plane. Don't forget your helmet.

      November 19, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • RangerDOS

      Leave him alone guys – he is the "Special Pilot". On weekends he drives the "Special Bus". Just leave him alone I say!

      November 19, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Special Pilot

      I may not be a pilot, but I DID stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night

      November 19, 2010 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • pooch

      i used to walk to school uphill both ways in the snow and i assure you, a cracked windshield is no big deal. i may not be pilot, but i did sleep at a holiday inn express last night.

      November 19, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • pooch

      ... and now i feel stupid for not reading all of the replies before posting mine. 🙂

      November 19, 2010 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • K

      Now I remember why I don't read the comments on here. I don't understand the need to insult others, and as the mom of a "short bus" kid, I find the comments referring to the "short plane" and wearing a helmet insensitive and inappropriate. Sad.

      November 20, 2010 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. gottahandittohim

    lightning strikes too.

    November 19, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • alex

      lightning strikes happen all the time to aircraft. they pose no threat at all.

      November 19, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • SpecialEdPilot

      That is incorrect, Alex. If lightening were not a threat to aircraft, then the billion dollar industry that studies and develops lightening countermeasures for aircraft would not exist. Many accidents that were attributed directly to lightening strikes would never had occured. The many people who died over the years from lightening-related air accidents would still be alive. And I would be my own grandpa!

      November 19, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. get real

    Most things made in China are cheap and junky. We need to start manufacturing things in the good old U.S. again. Unions are not the enemy. Let's get Americans back to work and increase our GNP. More than likely this windshield was manufactured in some sweat shop in China.

    November 19, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      I bet it was made in the USA!!

      November 19, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobington

      Yes because people will buy something made in the USA for $300 when they can buy the same thing from China for $35, i do it all the time, buy from China that if it wasn't for me buying that stuff the poor 8 year old in the sweat shop wouldnt have a job, and his fmaily would be starving, luckily I bought his product and he got a nickel and a bowel of rice to survive another day!

      November 19, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • get real

      And another American family starves. Way to go! Nice rationalization.

      November 19, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • get real

      Matt- I highly doubt it. But thanks for sharing. I doubt you graduated high school. Thanks for stepping away from the grill to contribute. Now get back to flipping burgers, sweetie.

      November 19, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Grandizer

      Well, guess what, none of you are the people in charge of buying the windshields of airplanes, so whether you would or would not buy from China makes no difference, the Airline companies do.
      And I bet if they had to pay 50 dollars more for a part from USA, they would increase the fare of ALL passengers on all flights by 5 dollars. No matter that the same plane will have paid off it's US made part in less then the first full flight.

      China makes it cheaper, but no one is as a greedy as a USA corporate boss...
      Sorry, a politician is.

      November 19, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • get real

      Granizer- Thank you for that unintelligible response. I bet your parents are very proud. I'm not sure you are not a fully functional adult based on your response, but keep working hard at it. Grammar & punctuation are important when writing. More importantly, there should be a point. Good luck. You have a very bright future.

      November 19, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • really

      Nice work. Name calling and put downs will win every argument. Why don't you get off your soap box, you made your point. Are you one of these trolls that try and make your point on every news story that you can?

      By the way if you can't understand Grandizer's point maybe you're in need of some extra schooling yourself?

      November 19, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lazy Unions

      Unions are the reason things are made in China. Companys are tired of paying somebody 40 bucks an hour to drink coffe and read newspapers all day. Back in the 1900's there was a need for unions, but with all the labor laws in place today, they have out lived there worth.

      November 19, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • get real

      Really- I appreciate your thoughts. I'm very glad you could decipher Grandizer's comments. But I must correct you. I did not call anyone names, but rather used innuendo. But thank you for calling me a troll. It demonstrates your intellectual prowess. I am humbled by you barbed comment. It's an honor to spar with an individual of your intellect.

      November 19, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • get real

      Lazy unions- Your comment is so untrue. You are using a broad stereotype to characterize unions. What about the poor teamster that drives day and night to deliver toys, so Americans can give them as gifts during the holidays? Your uninformed opinion tells me you more than likely push paper for a living. You would no nothing about a hard days work for a fair wage. Or would you?

      November 19, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • yacker01

      And their is probably a commie behind every tree!

      November 19, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • get real

      It's time to stop demonizing unions, and increase America's GNP. We give a free pass to corporations and politicians abusing our economy.

      November 19, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • TS

      Unions are enemies. There is not work done when unions are doing the "work". More like how many card games do they hold in an eight hour day. Use to build automated lines for automotive. UAW are the worst lazy pos ever.

      November 19, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • get real

      TS- Sounds like you have an axe to grind. Maybe you are bitter because you no longer work along side UAW? It is unfair to characterize all union workers as lazy. Maybe if corporations like GM were making better decisions, the American tax payers would not have to bail them out. Place the blame where it belongs.

      November 19, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      How do you know if the windshield was not made in the US? Basely accusation without Proof has no argument. If you didn't know "Unions" make the product cost a LOT more then it usually is. It's simple, Union will raise the cost of assets, utility, capital, and above normal salary that it has to cover. When you have a lot of high salary employment, then the company has to raise the price on their products in order to pay off for all the simple utility. Unions are the reason why many company "off-shore" their jobs. It saves the company money, and LOTS of it. And that's a pretty capitalistic thing to do!

      November 19, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • get real

      John- Sure. I guess shipping jobs off to other countries is the American thing to do? That just doesn't seem to make sense to me. It would have nothing to do with private jets, fancy corporate headquarters worldwide, or huge bonuses for big wigs. Let's just blame the little guy. That type of reasoning is why unemployment is so high.

      November 19, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Windshields are made in the USA...most likely by PPG Aerospace

      November 19, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • SwordofPerseus

      Unions are why you don't work 6 days a week 12 hours a day, for $10 a day, along with your children and live in the company boarding house! Pal get your facts straight or shut the hell up!

      November 19, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • real mad

      Get real- you mad brah?

      November 19, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • not so silent

      I am a proud union member who comes from a long line of union members who have worked their ass off. My father is a locomotive engineer. I NEVER saw him when I was growing up becuase there were no laws that required them to get 8 hours of "rest" between calls. Now that has increased to 10 hours of "rest" if the employee requests. New law requires him to have 2 days off in a 7 day period. This was just put into place with in the last 5 years. So you are calling all these men who until about 10-15 years ago were away from their families more than they were home. Missing their babies first steps, first day of school, almost every daddy daughter dance, Christmases, birthdays. Unions do good things for people who work VERY hard for the money to life the middle class American dream. Can you say that about your 8-5 M-F job? Stop complaining that unions have ruined our country. After all, it was they who got you most of your benefits you receive at your job that allows you to be home to tuck your kids into bed every night. Until you have lived the life of a union worker STFU.

      November 20, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • get real

      God bless you and your hard working family. We appreciate your hard work.

      November 20, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. yodaspeaks

    Hmm...i wonder if there was ever any danger of explosive decompression...and would such an event affect the passenger cabin as well?..,,no details given about the model of plane..or its age...and why not?

    November 19, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zebula

      I imagine pilot incapacitation would indeed affect those in the cabin...

      November 19, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • JT

      This was covered on an Episode of National Geo's "Air Crash Investigation:"

      November 19, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Real YodaSpeaks

      Hmmm...wonder of explosive decompression ever, I do...affect the passenger cabin such an incident would? About the model of plane or age no details given...why not?

      November 19, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • President Uno Did it!

      To divert the news cycle away from his continual failure

      November 19, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Saju

    may be the windshield wiper was going too fast!

    November 19, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • dgatwood

      You joke, but scratches on the glass do weaken it, so it's possible for debris under a wiper to cause enough of a scratch to significantly increase the risk of a crack developing in the event of an impact.

      Also, you don't necessarily have to have an impact to crack a windshield. If you mount a windshield (or any other glass plate) incorrectly-if there's not enough rubber around it, putting it in direct or nearly direct contact with anything remotely structural-then it's possible to get enough flexing of the frame around the glass to cause a stress crack. Similarly, if it is mounted in such a way that it is under continuous tension, it is possible for it to spontaneously crack. I'm not sure how likely either of those scenarios is for aircraft windshields (because I've never studied how they attach), but in theory, it could happen pretty easily.

      Either way, with modern laminated glass, this isn't a major safety issue, as several folks have already noted. It's not likely to blow out or anything. Still, it's good that they diverted and got the window replaced.

      November 20, 2010 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  14. g

    crack kills

    November 19, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Really??

    Does anybody find it odd that this guy was updating his Facebook while the flight was in progress?

    November 19, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stevey

      Yeah, you're not supposed to be using an electronic devices.....

      November 19, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • MyJunk

      I think the flight probably had on-board wi-fi

      November 19, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • FrequentFlier

      First thought that came to mind! He needs to be fined for violation of the wireless restrictions on the plane.

      November 19, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • HPKB

      above 10000 you can use your laptop and most the airlines have wifi now !

      November 19, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • 314swfl144

      FrequentFlier is obviously far from a frequent flyer. Get a clue.

      November 19, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • JL

      most delta flights have wifi these days

      November 19, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuckl

      Not at all. The airlines love the increased revenue streams generated by in-cabin Wi-Fi purchases. Plus, if you are on Four-Square, you can qualify for a "Mile High Club badge".

      November 19, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • mcbburton

      Delta and USAir, and I assume others, offer WiFi at cruising speed. I use it often to get work completed and correspond with the office on coast to coast flights. If you were a frequent flyer, you would know this. It's not a new concept.

      November 19, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Havok

      FrequentFlier – you must not fly too frequently. Electronic devices are usually only restricted during takeoff and approach. As far as the phone goes, many flights (for a while now) have provided a cost I'm sure...

      November 19, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
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