News Article - January 31, 2008

  An American Airlines flight with 138 passengers was diverted to Palm Beach International Airport late Wednesday because of smoke in the cockpit, airport and Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue officials said.

   American Airlines flight 1738 landed at the airport shortly before 9 p.m. on its flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Philadelphia, airport spokeswoman Casandra Davis said. There was no fire inside the plane, a Boeing 757, as it landed.

   A window in the cockpit shattered causing injury to a co-pilot. The pilot, three flight attendants and two passengers were also taken to area hospitals to treat smoke inhalation, Fire-Rescue spokesman Don DeLucia said. A lot of people are just glad to be alive after an in-flight emergency on a plane heading for Philadelphia.

   American Airlines Flight 1738 was forced to make an emergency landing Wednesday night and the airline is now blaming a broken heater. The jetliner was flying from Puerto Rico to Philadelphia when the cockpit suddenly filled with smoke. The plane was diverted to Palm Beach International Airport in Florida. Seven people were taken to a hospital, including the pilot, co-pilot, three flight attendants and two passengers. None of the injuries were life-threatening.

   The in-flight emergency began with the plane high over the Atlantic Ocean, hundreds of miles from the nearest airport. A passenger took photographs and the inside of the plane can be seen after the passengers were told to prepare for a crash landing. In the cockpit, an inner windowpane shattered, spraying glass. The plane's outer window did not break. Once they were safely on the ground, passengers got onto another plane and flew on to Philadelphia. Some recalled their terrifying ordeal from just a few hours earlier. "And then they immediately instructed us on how to handle an emergency landing," one passenger said. "I really thought we were near the end," another passenger said. The Boeing 757 was carrying 139 passengers and a crew of seven. American Airlines said the smoke came from a faulty heating element in the cockpit window, and that's why the window shattered. The airline said there was never any fire.

Source - Sun Sentinel and NBC10