Now Reading
Austrian Airlines Flight From Mallorca Badly Damaged When it Flies Through Severe Hailstorm, But Luckily No One Was Injured

Austrian Airlines Flight From Mallorca Badly Damaged When it Flies Through Severe Hailstorm, But Luckily No One Was Injured

a collage of a plane with a damaged front end

An Austrian Airlines flight from Palma de Mallorca to Vienna was rocked by turbulence and badly damaged after it flew through a severe hailstorm, shattering the cockpit windshield and decimating the nose of the Airbus A320 aircraft on Sunday afternoon.

Austrian Airlines flight OS434 departed the popular holiday island of Mallorca with up to 180 passengers onboard just before 4 pm for what should have been a routine two-hour flight to the Austrian capital.

the cockpit of an airplane with broken windshield
The damaged windshield from inside the cockpit.

The pilots of the 23-year-old aircraft apparently didn’t see any weather of concern on the weather radar until they suddenly flew through a rapidly developing thunderstorm just 150 miles out from Vienna Airport.

Passengers reported that they felt some turbulence, but they had no idea what was happening in the cockpit as hailstones smashed down on the windshield and damaged the nose of the aircraft – which is where the weather radar is located.

Despite the extensive damage and lack of visibility, the pilots were able to safely land the aircraft as planned at Vienna Airport just 20 minutes later. The aircraft even taxied to a remote stand where emergency services rushed to make sure everyone was okay.

It was only as the passengers got off the aircraft via a set of airstairs that they began to realise exactly what had happened. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the aircraft (registration: OE-LBM) has been removed from service for repair work to take place.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Austrian Airlines commented: “The aircraft encountered a thunderstorm cell on approach to Vienna, which the cockpit crew said was not visible on the weather radar. According to current information, the two front cockpit windows of the aircraft, the nose of the aircraft (radome) and some panels were damaged by the hail.”

“The aircraft was able to land safely at Vienna-Schwechat Airport. All passengers on the flight were uninjured. The Austrian Airlines technical team has already been entrusted with the specific damage assessment of the aircraft in question. The safety of our passengers and our crews is Austrian Airlines’ top priority.”

Matt’s take

No doubt the damage to this Austrian Airlines plane looks scary, and while uncommon, hail damage isn’t unheard of, and airliners are built to withstand this type of weather event.

In fact, cockpit windshields are typically made up of between 5 and 6 different layers designed to protect the pilots and maintain the integrity of the aircraft during a severe weather event or bird strike.

Last July, a Delta Air Lines Boeing 767 flew directly through a hailstorm shortly after departure from Milan, Italy, causing damage to the weather radome and a cracked windshield and prompting an emergency diversion back to Malpensa Airport.

In 2018, however, a Sichuan Airlines plane flying from the southwest Chinese city of Chongqing to Lhasa in Tibet completely lost the right-hand cockpit windshield, slightly injuring the First Officer.

The incident caused a decompression and emergency landing, but somehow, the two pilots avoided serious injury.

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

© 2023 All Rights Reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to with appropriate and specific directions to the original content.