Tuesday’s United Airlines flight 1274 from Hartford, Connecticut to Washington Dulles had to return to Hartford shortly after takeoff when pilots realized that a cockpit window had been left unlatched – and popped open once they took off and climbed to 4,000 feet.
While it was difficult for air traffic control to hear pilot transmission due to the noise of wind entering the cockpit with this window open, the plane was cleared to return immediately.
The side windows in the cockpit of the Boeing 737 slide open and shut, allowing a pilot to communicate directly with ground staff and even being used to climb out of in an emergency. One of these windows hadn’t been locked properly, leaving it in a partially open position. It’s unclear whether this was an oversight or the result of a maintenance issue with the aircraft.
According to a United Airlines spokesperson,
The flight landed safely, and we reaccomodated our customers on another aircraft.
Indeed, passengers were offloaded from the Boeing 737-900 upon return to Hartford and after a total delay of 6 hours made their way to Washington Dulles on board a Boeing 737 MAX 9. The original aircraft remained on the ground for 12 hours, presumably allowing maintenance to ensure the cockpit window was working properly or address any issues that had prevented proper closure in the first place.