2 Delta Planes Clipped Wings at LAX, Causing Long Flight Delays

Dec 18, 2018

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Delta flights were delayed at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Monday after two of the airline’s planes collided wings while taxiing to the airport’s runway.

Upon pushback from its gate at LAX, a Delta Boeing 737-900 heading to Salt Lake City as Flight 2377 clipped the wing of a Delta Boeing 757 at an adjacent gate operating Flight 696 to Atlanta. More specifically, the airline said in an email to TPG that the right winglet of the 737-900 “made contact” with the left wing of the 757 jet.

One passenger on board the 737 captured video of maintenance workers inspecting the damage to the 757’s left wing.

There were no injuries reported on board either plane, but passengers on both flights were delayed for hours as a result of the collision. The Atlanta-bound 757 was delayed for about two hours, while passengers flying on the plane to Salt Lake City were set back a whopping nine hours after the incident.

“Delta apologizes to the customers for the delay this caused while customers from both flights were accommodated on alternate aircraft,” the airline said in a statement.

Maintenance teams are still evaluating the two aircraft involved. Based on the limited video available of the damage, aviation experts say it is difficult to tell how extensive the damage is and how long repairs might take.

“Structural damage is not always evident by looking at the surface, so inspection is crucial,” former Boeing engineer Peter Lemme told TPG in an email. “The winglet has loads on it that require the structure to be healthy. Cracks and dents may have a fatigue issue as well.”

Lemme also notes that the wing impact zone is not shown in the above video. “If this involves leading or trailing edge devices, the scrutiny will extend into the actuating assembly as well.” But, he says, it all comes down to how complex the issues are that the maintenance crews uncover.

“If the damage is more than superficial,” Lemme says the repairs “might take several days.”

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