Last Saturday American Airlines flight 1990 was about to take off from Miami to Orlando, when a passenger noticed a bit of damage to the wing’s right slat. As the flight of the Boeing 757 progressed the passenger, who wishes to remain anonymous, noticed the small damage had spread to the width of several feet and he notified one of the flight attendants.
WESH of Orlando spoke with American spokesperson, Tim Smith, and he confirmed that the Boeing 757 did have some de-lamination on the plane’s right wing. He stated the plane was taken out of service and ferried back to Miami to have repairs completed. Smith stated the de-lamination occurred on the rear of one of the wing’s slats, and even if the problem had affected the operation of the slat, the slats simply make the plane more aerodynamic but do not affect the plane’s ability to fly safely.
“I really do want to assure folks that safety wasn’t compromised and no one was in any danger because of this,” he said.
Some others aren’t so sure. Eric Norber of Orlando FAA Safety Team feels that the pilots should have made an emergency landing. At first glance this might look like a serious incident, but I am not so sure.
First off the flight from Miami to Orlando is extremely short and it might have taken longer for the pilot to make an emergency landing back in Miami versus continuing to Orlando. Obviously American felt it was not a safety risk, since the plane was flown back to Miami with no passengers aboard.
Ice or debris on the leading edge of slats can cause a loss of lift and serious issues, however the damage was on the rear of the slats and appears to be mostly cosmetic. While the rear of the slat is make of laminated composite material, the front part is made of alloy and the damage would not been able to spread.
That being said, I will continue to find out more information about this incident, but on the most part, this might just be a non-incident (except for a few interesting photos).
Someone on Airliners.net also posted a very cool image showing how the rear of the slat (this photo is of a Boeing 747, but still similar construction) is to the front.
Thanks Chris S for pointing this story out!Image: WESH