NTSB Identification: DCA08IA048
Scheduled 14 CFR operation of US AIRWAYS INC
Incident occurred Saturday, March 22, 2008 in Richmond, VA
Aircraft: Boeing 757-200, registration: N921UW
Injuries: 180 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators used data provided by various sources and may not have traveled in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft incident report.

On March 22, 2008, at about 9:00 am EDT, a USAirways Boeing 757-200, flight number 1250, registration N921UW, lost a left upper wing trailing edge panel during cruise flight at FL270. Initial reports were that the flight crew had experienced "light chop" at the time. The flight was en route from Orlando International Airport, Orlando, Florida (MCO) to Philadelphia International Airport, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (PHL). The panel struck the window of passenger row 19ABC and cracked only the outer portion of the window. Pressurization was not lost. The flight crew continued on to PHL. Upon approach to PHL the flight crew informed ATC that they could not increase their airspeed due to possible airframe damage. The flight landed uneventfully. There were 174 passengers and 6 crew members on board with no reported injuries.

The NTSB has reviewed the data extracted from aircraft's flight data recorder (FDR), and in conjunction with statements from the flight crew, the Safety Board found that there was no substantial change to the aircraft's handling characteristics after the panel separated from the wing. Because of this, the NTSB has classified this event as an incident.

Since the incident on March 22, US Airways reported to the Safety Board that it had inspected the wing panels on all of its 757s and found problems with wing panel fasteners on several other aircraft, which were since repaired and returned to service.

After problems with the 757 wing panel fastening system were identified in the late 1980s, the Federal Aviation Administration issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD) requiring operators of 757s to install a redesigned fastening system. Eastern Airlines, which ceased operations in 1991, operated the 757 involved in this incident at the time the AD was issued in 1991, and had installed the redesigned system. It was these redesigned fasteners that failed on flight 1250.

The Safety Board is continuing to evaluate the design, installation, inspection and maintenance of the failed components to determine the cause of the failure and the impact on the 757 fleet.

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