- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 2, 2008

The National Transportation Safety Board yesterday said it is investigating why the cockpit of an American Airlines Boeing 757 filled with smoke before the crew was forced to make an emergency landing in West Palm Beach Wednesday.

The safety board said incident, which occurred during a flight from Puerto Rico to Philadelphia, follows five incidents in which smoke or fire has been reported from a Boeing 757 window heating system since 2004.

Last year, the NTSB issued safety recommendations asking the Federal Aviation Administration to require redesigned window heating systems in several Boeing aircraft, including the 757.

NTSB officials said the FAA hasn’t implemented the safety the recommendations.

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said officials have told the NTSB that Boeing already has issued a service bulletin to the airlines.

“We believed that would take care of the most urgent part of what needed to be done,” she said.

The FAA is also planning to issue a new rule in 2008 based on the safety recommendation, she said.

An update on the investigation issued by the NTSB yesterday said there were 139 passengers and seven crew members on the American flight when smoke began coming out of the window heating system on the first officer’s side of the cockpit windshield.

Using oxygen masks and goggles, the pilots turned the airplane toward West Palm Beach. During the descent, the inner window pane of the cockpit shattered.

An unknown number of passengers and crew were taken to a local hospital for smoke inhalation and released, but no other injuries were reported, according to the safety board.

A spokeswoman for American declined to comment, citing the ongoing NTSB investigation.

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