Sunday, April 04, 2021

Canadair CRJ-900, N561NN: Incident occurred July 24, 2020 near Charlotte, North Carolina

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration; Dallas Fort Worth, Texas
PPG; Huntsville, Alabama 
PSA Airlines; Vandalia, Ohio
AvtechTyee; Everett, Washington 

PSA Airlines on behalf of American Airlines

Location: Charlotte, NC
Incident Number: ENG20LA043
Date & Time: July 24, 2020, 08:00 UTC 
Registration: N561NN
Aircraft: BOMBARDIER INC CL-600-2D24 
Injuries: N/A
Flight Conducted Under: Part 121: Air carrier - Scheduled

The captain side windshield heating element sparked during flight, igniting a paper checklist being that was stored on glare shield. The first abnormal indication began when the airplane reached altitudes above 20000 feet on climb out from HPN. The captain and first officer both noticed an odd odor, they first believed it to be food from the passenger cabin. 

The flight crew asked the flight attendants if there was anyone eating or if they detected any odor but said they did not notice anything abnormal. The smell was intermittent and not strong enough to suspect anything other than an odd smell coming from the L PACK.

The flight crew reviewed the previous logbook and found the same issue documented in the weeks prior with maintenance performing PACK and engine runs on the ground but not finding any abnormalities and signed it off with ops check good. The flight crew suspected this to be the same recurring issue previously written up and had no idea it could be electrically related as the odor did not seem strong or acrid in nature.

The PACK and ECS system appeared to be operating normally and they continued the flight. At cruise the flight crew sent an ACARS to dispatch and maintenance and informed them that they would be writing up the aircraft for an odor suspected to be coming from the L PACK. 

The flight crew continued the flight to CLT normally until about 15NM southeast of CLT on the MLLET2(re-routed from CHSLY4 due to weather), at 9000 ft visible sparks and a crackling noise were observed from the windshield heating element. The captain immediately turned off the windshield heat switches as he was the pilot monitoring. The sparking stopped as soon as the switches were turned off but the checklist had ignited with a small flame and the captain grabbed it on the corner and threw it by the cockpit door and doused it with his water bottle to extinguish the paper. 

The flight crew then donned oxygen and performed the immediate action item list. The captain declared an emergency with ATC stating they had experienced sparks and a small flame in the cockpit that was now out and under control but that they had donned oxygen and requested immediate vectors to 18L to land as soon as possible.  The flight crew then read the QRC, finished the follow on QRH items and gave the TEST items to the flight attendants.

The flight attendants reported no smoke or abnormalities in the cabin. With the approach coming up quickly the captain elected to not make a PA and to just focused on landing safely. The aircraft landed and taxied via C6 and C. They told the tower no assistance was needed. The tower then informed the Blaze team that no assistance was needed and cancelled the emergency. 

The Blaze team acknowledged and informed the tower they would follow the airplane to the gate E11. No sparks or smoke were ever observed after the switches were turned off but they stayed oxygen on until parked. Upon opening the door the Blaze team inspected the cockpit, found no heat signature in the affected area and left the airplane. 

The captain then made a PA and informed the passengers that they had a small electrical issue in the cockpit and that the fire team had inspected the cockpit as a precaution and that the jet bridge would be connected soon so they could deplane. The passengers deplaned and they radioed maintenance control with the write up.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N561NN
Model/Series: CL-600-2D24 900
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Flag carrier (121)
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: 
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation: 
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site: 
Temperature/Dew Point:
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling: 
Altimeter Setting:
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: White Plains, NY (HPN)
Destination: Charlotte, NC (CLT)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Damage: Minor
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: In-flight
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: N/A
Latitude, Longitude: 35.214173,-80.811137 


  1. Don’t put checklists on glare shield

  2. Come on Burt you internet pilot, the glareshield is the perfect place for a checklist. And BTW glareshield is a word.

    1. Imbd = Snarky jerk with a chip on the shoulder.