American Flight Diverted Tuesday Night When A Winglet Fell Off The Plane At 36,000 Feet

American Airlines flight 3729 from Charleston to Dallas – Fort Worth, an Embraer E-17t operated by wholly-owned regional carrier Envoy Air, diverted to Birmingham, Alabama on Tuesday evening after reportedly losing “all or part” of a winglet in turbulence.

The occurrence aircraft, registration N233NN, landed smoothly and was met by emergency vehicles. Other reports confirm that passengers reportedly remained calm throughout the diversion and landing.

A ‘PIREP’ is a pilot report of the flight or ground conditions that their aircraft experiences. Here we see an urgent one at 36,000 feet “lost part of wing.”

Planes can fly without winglets. Those are the vertical pieces at the end of a wing that reduce drag in order to save fuel. While outside my area, there’s this take. It seems to me to underplay the risks that some other damage might have occurred as the winglet came off.

Though this aircraft turned out not to be in any actual danger, that wasn’t certain when the incident first occurred. There’s also no reports that I’ve seen yet on where the winglet landed. Hopefully someone just has a souvenir.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The fact that the winglet is missing isn’t as concerning as what had to occur to make that happen… Hopefully they actually do a thorough inspection for severe/extreme turbulence and make sure there’s no hidden airframe damage.

  2. Since American Airlines should not fly an ERJ175 with a missing position light in the winglet after civil twilight, an ERJ175 missing a winglet is “something special in the air.”

  3. Brazilian made airplane

    A third world country that can’t feed it’s own people shouldn’t be building airplanes.

  4. Alan – that’s just rude and mean, people lives mean more than comments of the uneducated (aka: that’s you).

    Ken – I would re-read, I think they stated it COULD fly without one of these lights for that model, not that it did for this particular plan, just after the fact.

    Skilled pilots and training and a solid airframe. Glad everyone is safe.

  5. You don’t need winglets to fly ! My more concern would be people on the ground !

  6. Oh look… Another half reported story by Gary…. maybe do some research and find out that while loosing a piece of your wing is OBVIOUSLY bad. no question, the planes can fly without them. Infact, Alaska has one of their 737’s operating without them. GASP.

    Let’s go run a news story folks….

  7. It’s a much bigger deal for anyone on the ground under the winglet than it is for the passengers in the airplane…

  8. This story reads as another excuse to liquidate American. If this had been a Delta Connection flight, I seriously doubt you would have mentioned it. I hope no one on the ground got hurt and the only results from the incident will be delayed passengers, an aircraft in need of a new winglet, and a souvenir.

  9. Quick question- if the turbulence was severe and reported as such , doesn’t the plane have to undergo a special inspection? I was once an outbound passenger on a flight that was delayed 3 hours to complete a check due to severe turbulence encountered by the inbound .

    I wonder if AA/Envoy have mechanics at BHM. The plane arrived BHM at 18:50 and left at 22:06.

  10. @Nyb As a former American Eagle pilot, trust me when I say passengers DO NOT care. They bought a ticket for an AA flight and everything that happens directly represents AA. Whether they’re right or wrong, that’s just how it is. This is AA’s problem through and through. (They also own Envoy so there’s that, too.)

  11. “Evening civil twilight ” is part of the definition of “night.” An aircraft must have lighted position lights from ” sunset to sunrise.” That’s not the same thing.

    A pilot isn’t required to land immediately because a position light goes out in flight.

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