Hail smashes plane windshield, forces pilot to divert to El Paso

A damaged windshield forced an American Airlines plane to land in El Paso Sunday evening.

American Airlines Flight 1897 from San Antonio to Phoenix made an emergency landing at El Paso International Airport around 8 p.m. Sunday night.

Radio communication obtained by KFOX14/CBS4 between the pilot and the tower shows hail damaged the windshield on Airbus A319.

“The hail has beat up our forward windshields pretty badly for American Airlines 1897. At this time, we don’t have a whole lot of forward visibility,” said the pilot over the radio.

Flight 1897 had left San Antonio just before 7 p.m. Sunday and had been in the air for about two hours before making its emergency landing at El Paso International Airport.

Flight tracking, courtesy of FlightAware, showed the plane circling around the airport three times before landing.

The aircraft suffered hail damage to its nose and windshield.

El Paso, Dona Ana, Otero, Sierra and Hudspeth counties were under a severe thunderstorm watch until 9 p.m. Sunday.

The flight was on its way to Phoenix, carrying 130 passengers and a crew of five, according to the airline.

No injuries were reported.

Passengers boarded another plane around 11:45 p.m. to get to Phoenix, said an airline official.

An inspection was expected to be conducted on the damaged Airbus.