String Of Boeing Failures Continues With 737-800 Flight Turning Back With Cracked Cockpit Windshield

Image: Charly Triballeau/AFP (Getty Images)
Image: Charly Triballeau/AFP (Getty Images)

In the wake of recent major Boeing quality control news, including loose hardware, door plug failure, and the debacle that was the development of the 737 Max, it isn’t a good time for further failures by the company. A piece of news out of Japan that would probably normally be swept under the rug, an unrelated 737-800 with a cracked windshield, became international news this weekend.

The flight took off from Sapporo-New Chitose airport bound for Toyama, but reversed course after the crack was discovered in the outer layer of window. The pilots landed the plane safely and none of the 65 onboard were injured. Alternative flights were arranged for the passengers to reach Toyama.

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A cracked windshield in a pressurized aircraft is quite a cause for concern, despite this plane reaching its destination without further issue. A crack can compromise the pressurization, and usually requires pilots to decrease the vessel’s pressure and descend immediately. An airplane windshield is comprised of four layers, including an outer acrylic layer, a glass layer, a flexible mid-layer, and an inner acrylic layer, usually with an internal heating element for de-icing as well. In this case it was the outermost layer that had cracked, and the plane maintained its pressure throughout the flight.

ANA will likely have to replace the entire window, not just the outer layer, to ensure the windshield is strong enough to return to service.

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