Monday, 9 May 2022

Jet loses winglet during turbulence

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a story like this before, and I’m curious to see what the investigation reveals.


On Tuesday the 3rd May 2022, American Airlines flight 3729 was operating a flight from Charleston (CHS/KCHS) to Dallas (DFW/KDFW). The flight was operated by American Airlines regional subsidiary Envoy, using an Embraer E175 aircraft. 

The plane encountered some moderate to severe turbulence while cruising at 36,000 feet near Birmingham, Alabama… and then the plane lost part of its wing. Specifically, the right winglet (the end of the wing that “bends” up) fell off. Pilots immediately declared an emergency, and the plane landed in Birmingham (BHM/KBHM) about 35 minutes after the initial incident.

American ended up sending in a plane for stranded passengers, which made it to Dallas around four hours late. The original plane involved in the incident continues to sit on the ground in Birmingham. Below you can see some pictures of the winglet… it literally looks like it was cleanly chopped off, basically.

This isn’t supposed to happen

Flying is incredibly safe thanks to the number of redundant systems in place when things go wrong, and also thanks to investigators learning from every incident, and implementing changes to mitigate risk going forward.

The thing is, some incidents are bound to happen and are fairly common, purely due to the number of flights that operate. This could range from engine failures, to smoke alarms, to injuries due to turbulence. But a part of the wing falling off during turbulence? That’s something you don’t often hear about.

Obviously this is incredibly alarming and concerning, and I’m sure a thorough investigation will be conducted to determine the root cause of this. At the same time, it’s also kind of reassuring that part of a plane’s wing can fall off at cruise altitude, and the plane can still land safely without any injuries.

Aircraft Information:
Airline: American Eagle (flying for Envoy Air)
Code: AA/AAL
Aircraft: Embraer E175LR
Registration: N233NN
Serial Number: 17000561
First Flew: May 2016
Age: 5 Yrs

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