ORLANDO, Fla. - A passenger on American Airlines flight 1990 from Miami to Orlando last Saturday snapped photos that show what appears to be progressive damage to the surface of the plane's wing that occurred during the flight.
The passenger, who wishes to remain anonymous, was seated over the Boeing 757's right wing and said he noticed some damage to the wing before take off.
The passenger said he alerted the flight attendant, and by the time the plane landed in Orlando, the damage spread to a width of several feet.
Tim Smith, a spokesman for American Airlines out of Dallas, acknowledged that flight 1990 did have some de-lamination occur on the plane's right wing.
He said the plane was taken out of service and ferried back to Miami with no passengers on board for repairs and will return to service on Tuesday, July 20.
According to Smith what occurred on the wing was de-lamination, or a tearing away of several layers of composite materials.
Smith says it is a rare occurrence and does not affect the safety of the the flight.
He added the de-lamination occurred on the rear of one of the wing's slats, and even if the problem had affected the operation of the slat, the slats simply make the plane more aerodynamic but do not affect the plane's ability to fly safely.
Smith said he truly does understand it does look worrisome if you don't know exactly what you are looking at.
I really do want to assure folks that safety wasn't compromised and no one was in any danger because of this, he said.
Eric Norber of Orlando is an appointed member of the FAA Safety Team and an Aviation Safety Consultant.
After looking at the photos, Norber expressed serious concern about the potential danger posed by the de-lamination and said if he were flying the plane he would have opted for an emergency landing.