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Winglet falls off plane during flight from South Carolina to Dallas-Fort Worth, FAA says

An American Airlines plane. (Dreamstime/TNS)

An American Airlines flight had to be diverted on Tuesday, May 3, after a winglet detached from the plane during severe turbulence, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The flight operated by regional carrier Envoy Air was flying from Charleston International Airport in South Carolina to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.

The FAA said the flight encountered “severe turbulence,” causing the pilot to divert the plane to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Alabama. When it landed at 7:15 p.m., crew observed “a piece of the right winglet was missing,” the FAA said in its preliminary report.

Winglets are placed at an angle on the ends of airplane wings. Their purpose is to reduce drag and increase the fuel efficiency of planes, according to California Aeronautical University.

Planes can still fly without winglets, however.

“Without them, the plane will have to deal with more vortex drag and will not be able to fly as easily, but it will still be able to fly,” the Smithsonian said.

American Airlines did not respond to a request for comment by McClatchy News, but a spokesperson for the airline told WCSC the plane suffered “a possible mechanical issue.”

“We thank our crew for their professionalism, ensuring the safety of their fellow team members and customers on board,” the spokesperson said.

One person on the flight said on Twitter that it was a “surprisingly smooth flight and landing after the fact.”


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