After a tennis ball-sized hail pummels a jumbo jet, the flight is forced to land.
After hailstones the size of tennis balls pounded its cockpit, nose cone, and wings, a wide-body jet flying from Italy to the United States spent only 90 minutes in the air before returning to its takeoff airfield.
After circling for 90 minutes aboard a Boeing 777-31H aircraft to burn up fuel, the Emirates flight from Milan’s Malpensa airport to New York’s JFK International landed safely.
Although no casualties were reported during the flight on July 13, images obtained on the ground revealed broken cockpit windows, a punched-in nose, and a hole-riddled fuselage. Some of the strikes back up the theory that the hailstones were at least 2-1/2 inches across.
According to Milan’s airports authorities, the pilot reported flying through a hailstorm at 15,000 feet over the Italian and Swiss Alps. At the time, severe thunderstorms were observed across northern Europe. “About 97 minutes after take-off, [the plane]returned to Malpensa,” according to the agency.
The Emirates flight was scheduled to be a transatlantic flight, which meant the plane had a full fuel tank. To avoid an explosive touch-down if the hailstorm damaged the wing flaps or landing gear, it’s usual practice to burn the majority of the additional fuel in a holding pattern.
Strong winds continued to wreak havoc on the flight, which struggled to land and required two tries to safely land.
The customers were rebooked on a another flight the next day.
After a long pandemic halt, Emirates resumed flights to New York in June, and has had daily flights to the United States throughout July.
Because of gravity, hailstorms on the ground are felt as downpours, similar to rain. However, hail can erupt from the sky in a variety of directions at the same time, and the impact at high speeds can be just as destructive as other solid missiles.
Because the cockpit windshields on Boeing and Airbus passenger jets are two-layered, a pilot can fly the plane with a crack in the outside panel as long as the inner windshield is intact. According to the Flight Safety Foundation, it can still cause visibility issues.
Storms can also damage a plane’s radome, the dome that protects radar equipment located under the nose cone. A damaged radar antenna, on the other hand, would. This is a condensed version of the information.