American Airlines Airbus A321 turns away due to cabin smoke and fumes


An American Airlines Airbus A321-200 flying from Las Vegas, Nevada, to Charlotte, North Carolina, on July 9 had to divert to Phoenix when the crew reported the smell of smoke in the cabin. After a diversion and a safe landing, flight attendants aboard the jet complained of headaches from the mysterious fumes.

Flight details

American Airlines flight AA2930 took off from Las Vegas at 5:11 a.m. on July 9, bound for Charlotte. About 40 minutes into the flight, the Airbus A321 was cruising at FL320 over the Navajo Nation in northeastern Arizona when the smell of smoke and fumes was detected.

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With no clear reason as to the origin of the smell, the crew made the decision to divert to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. According to The Aviation Herald, the plane landed safely on runway 07L in Phoenix about 30 minutes after the decision to divert.

The flight path and diversion of the Airbus A321. Photo: FlightRadar24.com

Land in Phoenix

Upon landing in Phoenix, the crew asked emergency services if any smoke was visible from the craft, with emergency services reporting that the craft appeared to be in good condition. However, the plane’s crews noted that the smell of smoke and fumes were still present in the cabin, with flight attendants complaining of headaches from the fumes. As the A321 taxied to the apron, emergency services following the aircraft reported spotting small amounts of white smoke emanating from the right engine IAE V2533.


After taxiing to the gate and parking, a wing door had to be opened to ventilate the plane when emergency services entered the plane via the jet bridge.

The aircraft involved in the incident was an A321-200 registered N552UW with MSN 4957. At the time of publication of this article, the aircraft is just over 10.5 years old, having originally been delivered to US Airways in December 2011. This particular aircraft is a bit more special than most other older A321-200s. Indeed, the N552UW according to Planespotters.net, is the 7,000th aircraft delivered by Airbus.

Why divert to Phoenix?

Looking at the American Airlines narrowbody flight path, a diversion to Phoenix seems somewhat out of place. Indeed, the return to the original airport would have taken about the same time.


It is more than likely that the aircraft diverted to Phoenix due to Sky Harbor International being a hub airport for American Airlines, which would have given the airline more options for replacement aircraft to which transfer affected passengers (instead of flying on an aircraft from elsewhere). At the same time, with both Phoenix and Charlotte being American Airlines hubs, passengers could be easily transferred to existing flights if needed.

As for the passengers of AA2930 on July 9, a replacement A321-200 has been designated to resume the journey. Registered N524UW, the plane finally left Phoenix about four and a half hours after the accident plane landed.

After diverting to Phoenix and landing around 6:30 a.m. local time, the accident aircraft was inspected and deemed fit to return to service. It was eventually reloaded with flight AA2308 from Phoenix to Minneapolis, taking off from Phoenix at 8:46 p.m. local time.

Source: The Aviation Herald, FlightRadar24.com, Planespotters.net

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