Airplane with hole in wing returns to Minneapolis
Tuesday, November 21, 2000
A Northwest Airlines flight bound for Portland, Ore., returned to Minneapolis on Monday morning after a passenger or a member of the flight crew noticed a 1-foot-diameter hole in the airplane's left wing.
Airline spokesman Jon Austin said Flight 375, which was carrying 179 passengers and seven crew members, made a normal landing at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport about 10 a.m. The 757 had been in the air for about a half-hour after leaving Minneapolis before somebody noticed the hole on the leading edge of the wing, he said.
Although a hole that size is unusual, the pilot didn't report any change in the plane's handling or performance, Austin said. Nobody was injured and passengers were put on another plane for the trip, he said.
"The hole was caused by some sort of mechanical process, not something chemical or corrosive or by explosion or fire," he said. "Something probably hit the plane and damaged it."
Patrick Hogan, spokesman for the Metropolitan Airports Commission, said the pilot didn't radio for an emergency landing, but "needed to land here because of a problem." He also said that a hole that size was unusual.
Austin said he didn't believe the passengers were told specifically why they were returning to Minneapolis, "but it was common knowledge because the hole was visible from the cabin.
"I'm sure it was upsetting for them to see it," he said. "If we have holes, they're usually more of a puncture."
Austin said Northwest will investigate, and the Federal Aviation Administration might look at the hole. He said he doesn't know if the damage meets the National Transportation Safety Board's criteria for investigation.
"I've heard of holes in aircraft, but never under this exact set of circumstances," Austin said.