The good news for the passengers and crew aboard a Delta Airlines flight last week is that the pilots were able to safely land the plane. The bad news is that some passengers may have been unnerved to discover the plane’s windshield shattered mid-flight.
The plane’s windshield cracked about 90 minutes after takeoff from Salt Lake City, when the plane reached an altitude of around 30,000 feet, according to the Associated Press. That’s when the pilots decided to land in Denver to be safe.
“They came on the loudspeaker saying that the windshield had shattered, and we were diverting to Denver in about 10 minutes,” passenger Rachel Wright said, according to 2 KUTV, Salt Lake City. “I was sure I had misheard them, but I hadn’t. They kept on saying for everyone to stay calm, to be calm, and we were calm, so being told to stay calm while we were calm made us feel a little panicky.”
How The Incident Unfolded
According to FlightAware, Delta Air Lines Flight 760 departed from Salt Lake City at 10:08 a.m. local time. The plane, which had 198 passengers, was set to land at Washington Dulles, however, it diverted to Denver Airport about 90 minutes into the flight.
“Delta flight 760 from Salt Lake City to Washington, D.C. experienced a maintenance issue mid-flight,” a Delta spokesperson said, according to 2 KUTV. “Out of an abundance of caution, the flight crew diverted into Denver and the plane landed routinely.”
When the plane landed in Denver, passengers were able to see the shattered cockpit window. Some even took pictures and posted them on social media.
For example, Kirk Knowlton, another passenger, took a picture and tweeted that the crew had announced that the windshield appeared to crack spontaneously.
Eventually, the passengers boarded another plane in Denver and then continued on their way to Washington, D.C. after a delay of a few hours.
“It could have been really bad, it could have gone very differently,” Wright said, according to 2 KUTV. “I’ve never been more grateful to spend an extra 3 hours in an airport.”
While it still isn’t clear why the windshield cracked, the Federal Aviation Administration has announced it will investigate the incident.
An Unusual Occurrence
While it’s unusual for a plane’s windshield to crack, it does happen occasionally. Fortunately for the passengers and crew aboard Delta Flight 760 — and all other air travelers as well — airplane cockpit windshields are designed to remain intact if there is a crack.
“Cockpit windshields contain two panes of thick glass with a plastic layer in between for heating,” John Cox, a former U.S. Airways captain, said, according to USA Today. “Either pane is capable of holding full pressure if the other is lost.”
If the plane’s windshield does crack, pilots will descend to reduce pressure on the windshield and plan on a diversion if necessary, Cox explained.
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