An American Airlines operated Airbus A321 was forced to return to Miami International Airport shortly after takeoff when the crew reported an odor onboard according to an FAA report. After landing, an inspection of the aircraft revealed that a large panel and an emergency slide had detached from the aircraft during takeoff.
Flight AA2878 to Washington DC departed Miami at around 08:45 am on Tuesday for what should have been a nearly two-hour flight. In the end, a replacement aircraft had to be found and the flight didn’t reach Washington DC until 11:13 pm on Tuesday night.
The four-year-old aircraft with 186 passengers onboard had reached 16,000 feet when the crew reported an odor and decided to return to Miami. In an initial filing of the incident by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there were no reported injuries.
On most commercial passenger aircraft, the emergency slides are fitted in the cabin doors within what is known as the bustle. On certain aircraft, like the Airbus A321, some of the slides are fitted within the actual fuselage so as to allow more room in the passenger cabin.
The emergency slides are designed to only activate if the cabin door is armed and opened from the inside. It’s not clear whether the slide somehow managed to activate or detached due to another reason. The remnants of the slide have not been found.
“On ascent leaving Miami, the slide pack blew out of its container and created a bang followed by noise in the cabin. Resulted in an emergency landing and plane obviously needing repairs,” a source quoted by informed Twitter user JonNYC said of the incident.
A spokesperson for American Airlines denied there was an odor onboard the aircraft, saying in an emailed statement: “On Tuesday, June 15, American Airlines flight 2878 from Miami (MIA) to Washington, D.C. (DCA) returned to MIA shortly after takeoff due to a possible mechanical issue.”
“The flight landed safely and without incident at 9:23 a.m. local time. Upon inspection, our maintenance team determined the aircraft slide had deployed after takeoff. Customers later boarded a replacement aircraft for DCA, and we apologize for any disruption this caused to their travel plans. We appreciate our team for taking care of our customers.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.