American Airlines Boeing makes emergency landing after wall panels come loose

A passenger onboard American Airlines flight AA2293 posted this picture of the plane's wall panels coming loose mid-flight. -- PHOTO: JAMES WILSON'S FACEBOOK PAGE
A passenger onboard American Airlines flight AA2293 posted this picture of the plane's wall panels coming loose mid-flight. -- PHOTO: JAMES WILSON'S FACEBOOK PAGE

SAN FRANCISCO (REUTERS) - An American Airlines plane made an emergency landing in San Francisco on Monday after a number of interior wall panels came loose mid-flight, an airline spokesman said.

Flight AA2293, carrying 184 passengers and six crew, was en route for Dallas when the panels started to split at the seams, making a loud popping sound, American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller said.

The plane was a Boeing 757, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.com.

The captain initially said the plane would continue to Dallas as the cabin never lost pressure and oxygen masks did not deploy, Miller said. But after inspecting the panels he decided to return to San Francisco.

No one was injured and the plane landed safely around 2.15 pm, (2115 GMT) Miller said.

A passenger, James Wilson, told a local NBC channel people in the cabin started to scream when the panels peeled away.

"I was thinking I'm not going to stay in this airplane," Wilson was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald. "It's still making noise and whistling; there were no oxygen masks dropping. They (The crew) said no we are OK. We're going to keep going."

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Miller said the panels appeared to have come loose due to a blown air duct, adding that the Federal Aviation Administration had been contacted and an investigation launched.

Wilson, who was able to give live updates on the situation via his Facebook page while on the plane, wrote after the landing: "They want each and every passenger to call the AA customer service line to organise our own transportation. Tweet away, friends."

The plane was taken out of service upon landing. The passengers remain in San Francisco and are scheduled to fly out on Tuesday morning, Miller said.