American Airlines Flight Makes Emergency Landing Due to Hail
An American Airlines Flight from San Antonio to Phoenix on Sunday (June 3rd) had a scary ride as their aircraft slammed head-on into a hail storm at 34,000 feet over South-Central New Mexico. Ultimately, this aircraft decided to make an emergency landing in El Paso - apparently using on-board instrumentation and a cockpit side-window to land, since the windshield was shattered by golf-ball to tennis-ball-size hail. All 130 passengers were unharmed, though shaken by the experience. American Airlines released the following statement to KSAT.
“American Airlines flight 1897, from San Antonio to Phoenix, diverted to El Paso due to damage sustained by weather during the flight. The aircraft, an Airbus A319 with 130 passengers and a crew of five, landed safely at 8:03 p.m. MT. The aircraft is currently being evaluated by our maintenance team. We never want to disrupt our customers’ travel plans, and we are sorry for the trouble this caused.”
According to the National Weather Service, a wide swath of thunderstorms - including severe weather - was occurring throughout West Texas and New Mexico through the afternoon and evening. This meant that the normal jet route along the Interstate 10 through West Texas was not an option. Instead, Air Traffic Control routed traffic above just west of Odessa, Texas to Carlsbad, New Mexico, to near Capitan, New Mexico. Unfortunately, this is where the real trouble began.
Passengers reported turbulence that was shaking the whole plane, causing it to severely drop while their items flew around. The plane needed assistance for the emergency landing, as the pilots were unable to see through the damaged windshield. Passengers expressed they were unaware of how bad the damage actually was until they were able to exit the plane.
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