American Eagle flight forced to make emergency landing in Fresno after windshield breaks midflight

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It was an unexpected landing for the 54 passengers plus crew headed from Phoenix to Humboldt County.

Pilots for American Airlines flight 3130 discovered a windshield crack while the plane was flying near Mono Lake.

"Any time an aircraft has a maintenance issue in flight, as a precaution, the pilots will divert the aircraft to the closest airport so that the aircraft can be looked at," says Vikkie Calderon with Fresno-Yosemite International Airport.

In this case, Fresno-Yosemite International was the closest option.

A quick but controlled descent was made from 36,000 feet down to 20,000 feet.

A severe crack in the windshield would have the ability to impact cabin air pressure, so fire crews stood by ready to provide aid, which didn't end up being necessary.

Airport officials say luckily, FYI houses a SkyWest maintenance wing. That made it easier to deplane passengers, bring them aboard a different plane and take the aircraft with a broken windshield in for repair.

ABC News Aviation Analyst John Nance provided the perspective of a pilot.

"It's a moment that you won't forget because it's pretty startling, but what happens is only one of the panes of glass or plastic inside has become compromised," he said.

He says windshields on planes are designed to withstand damage, making the moment more frightening for passengers than pilots and crew members.

"A broken windshield does not sound good but we know what it means and it's not a threat," he said.

Officials at Fresno-Yosemite confirmed that no other flights or operations were impacted.

AA flight 3130 finally landed in Humbolt county just after 6:30 Monday evening.
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