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American Jet Returns To MSP After Smoke Seen In Cabin

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A couple of minutes into a flight to Dallas-Ft. Worth this morning, Eric Smith heard a loud bang on the floor a row in front of him.

Moments later, the Coon Rapids man said, he and his family were covered with white, fluffy insulation. “And then blue smoke started coming out,” he said.

The American Airlines flight that departed Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport carrying 117 passengers and five crew members turned around and was safely back on the ground within minutes. No one was injured.

While the incident startled passengers, the airline later diagnosed the problem as a failure in some ductwork and said there was no fire.

Soon after the smoke started pouring from the floor, Smith and his wife, Jennifer, were asked to take their 8-month-old daughter, Kaylee, to the front of the plane.

“Passengers were turning around to the flight crew in the back, trying to figure out what was going on,” Smith said.

The MD-80 aircraft the Smith’s were on has a system of ductwork that takes heat generated from the engines in the back and runs it through the belly of the plane to an anti-icing system on the wings.

“Something in the duct work failed or blew a hole,” said Tim Smith, an American Airlines spokesman. “There’s a pretty good blast (of air)” moving through the ductwork at takeoff, when the engines are near full throttle, he said.

A heat indicator in the cockpit alerted the crew, the American spokesman said, and a fire retardant system in

the cargo hold near the ductwork was activated. But a later check showed no sign of a fire.

Most passengers were being put on other flights to Dallas-Ft. Worth today. The Smiths were moved to a Saturday morning flight with an upgrade to first class, Eric Smith said. They were able to rearrange their plans for their trip to Puerto Rico so they can stay an extra day.

“All in all,” he said, “it’s about as well as something like that can turn out.”

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