BAKERSFIELD — An American Airlines jet carrying 108 passengers and crew turned around shortly after takeoff Thursday when a malfunctioning air conditioner sent smoke into the cockpit.
It was the second time in a month that an MD-80 twin-engine jet had the problem.
American Airlines Flight 1588 was heading to the Dallas-Fort Worth airport when an electrical smell and smoke were reported in the cockpit, said Mitch Barker, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration in Seattle.
The plane was at 2,000 feet when it returned about 7:15 a.m., said Ray Bishop, director of Meadows Field Airport in Kern County.
Mayor Bob Price was on the plane and said there was no panic. "Most people didn't even realize we were turning back," he said.
The plane's air-conditioning system is driven by the engines, and when a seal failed less than a minute after takeoff, "smoke and fumes were pumped into the cockpit," Bishop said. The crew shut down the system and turned the plane around.
"Happens all the time," he said. "Airplanes break. The crew handled it very well. [It was not] . . . a life-threatening situation."
Last week, an American Airlines Boeing 727 carrying 147 people from Miami aborted a flight to Santa Domingo after frightened passengers smelled smoke coming from the air vents.