LATAM Airbus A321 Returns Over Two Cracked Windshields

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Earlier this week, a LATAM Brazil Airbus A321 returned to São Paulo less than an hour after its departure. The reason for the diversion was a pair of cracked windshields. But how exactly did the incident play out? And what has happened to the aircraft involved since?

LATAM Brazil operates 26 Airbus A321 aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

What happened?

LA3304 is a scheduled Brazilian domestic flight between São Paulo/Guarulhos International (GRU) and Belém/Val-de-Cans International (BEL). The flight with flag carrier LATAM Brazil is scheduled to take just over three and a half hours. Local low-cost carrier GOL Linhas Aéreas also provides competition along this corridor.

On November 17th, this flight departed São Paulo at 12:44 local time, with a delay of 39 minutes, according to FlightRadar24.com. The Aviation Herald reports that, during its climb, the flight had to deviate around adverse weather. Having reached an altitude of 20,000 feet, it became evident that both of the aircraft’s windshields had cracked.

 

LA3304 17Nov2020
The flight path of LA3304 of November 17th. Image: FlightRadar24.com

As such, the crew elected to return to São Paulo. Despite being overweight, having burned far less fuel than had it reached Belém, the flight made a safe landing on runway 27L at GRU. It touched down at 13:32 local time, having spent just 48 minutes in the air. Just under two hours later, at 15:20 local time, passengers were able to depart once again aboard a replacement aircraft. This reached Belém at 18:35 local time, representing a delay of just under three hours.

The aircraft involved

The LATAM Brazil aircraft involved in this incident was an Airbus A321 with the registration PT-MXB. According to Planespotters.net, TAM Linhas Aéreas (the airline’s predecessor) took delivery of the aircraft in September 2007. FlightRadar24.com reports that PT-MXB remained on the ground in São Paulo for two days after the incident. Its first flight afterward was LA3213, a domestic service from São Paulo to Porto Alegre, on November 19th

The replacement aircraft, which completed the delayed flight without further incident, was another Airbus A321. This example bears the registration PT-MXF, with TAM having taken delivery of it in July 2010, according to Planespotters.net.

LATAM Brazil A321 OneWorld Livery
PT-XPB is LATAM Brazil’s only Airbus A321 to bear a special OneWorld alliance livery. Photo: Rafael Luiz Canossa via Flickr

SeatLink reports that LATAM Brazil’s Airbus A321s have an all-economy 3-3 seat configuration. This gives the aircraft a capacity of 220 passengers, with a standard seat pitch of just under 30 inches. On November 17th, LA3304 was well-filled, given the present circumstances. In addition to seven crew members, 178 passengers were onboard, representing a relatively healthy load factor of 81%.

LATAM Brazil’s present fleet

According to Planespotters.net, LATAM Brazil’s short-haul fleet presently consists entirely of Airbus A320 family aircraft. One can see a little more diversity in its long-haul aircraft. We’ll conclude by taking a closer look at the full breakdown of the Brazilian flag carrier’s fleet. This is as follows:

  • Airbus A319-100 – 22 (17 in service, 5 parked)
  • Airbus A320-200 – 66 (45 in service, 21 parked + 5 on order)
  • Airbus A320neo – 6 (6 parked + 2 on order)
  • Airbus A321-200 – 26 (15 in service, 11 parked)
  • Airbus A350-900 – 10 (2 in service, 8 parked)
  • Boeing 767-300 – 13 (9 in service, 4 parked)
  • Boeing 777-300 – 10 (7 in service, 3 parked)

Have you ever flown with LATAM Brazil? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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