National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating an incident that occurred on January 30, 2008, in which an American Airlines B757-200, en route from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Philadelphia, diverted to West Palm Beach, Florida, and made an emergency landing after the cockpit filled with smoke.
Of the 139 passengers and 7 crewmembers, several were transported to the hospital for smoke inhalation. All have since been released. No other injuries were reported.
According to reports from the crew, while at cruise altitude over the Atlantic Ocean, smoke began emanating from the window heating system connected to the first officer’s windshield. The crew donned oxygen masks and smoke goggles and diverted to Palm Beach International Airport. During the descent to land, the inner pane of the first officer’s windshield shattered. The crew continued the descent and landed without further incident.
The digital flight data recorder (DFDR) was downloaded and sent to the NTSB laboratories in Washington. The affected windshield, which remained in one piece, and the heating unit were removed from the aircraft and will undergo a detailed analysis.
While the cause of this particular incident is unknown and remains under investigation, the NTSB is aware of five events between 2004 and 2006 in which smoke, and in some cases fire, were reported to have originated from window heating systems in B-757 aircraft.
Based on these incidents, in September 2007 the NTSB issued two Safety Recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) asking the agency to require the installation of redesigned window heating systems in all Boeing 747, 757, 767, and 777 series aircraft. These Safety Recommendations have yet to be implemented by the FAA.
NTSB Media Contact:
View of cracked windshield from inside flight deck - Larger image at http://www.ntsb.gov/Pressrel/2008/images/undamaged-spinner2.gif
View of the heating unit on affected windshield - Larger image http://www.ntsb.gov/Pressrel/2008/images/undamaged-spinner2.gif
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.