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11th Jun 2024

Pilots praised after guiding plane ‘blind’ through hail storm

Charlie Herbert

The nose of the plane was ripped off

Pilots have been praised after they managed to safely land an airplane that went through a major hail storm which caused significant damage to the aircraft.

Austrian Airlines flight OS434 was flying from Palma de Mallorca, Spain, to Vienna, Austria, on June 9 when it hit a “thunderstorm cell,” Austrian Airlines said.

But about 20 minutes before they were due to land the Airbus A320 plane went through a “thunderstorm cell” which the airline said was not visible on the radar to the cockpit crew.

The hail storm was so bad that it managed to rip the plane’s nose off, and forced the pilots to land the plane “blind” as they made a mayday call, according to Austrian Wings magazine.

Emmeley Oakley, who was a passenger on the flight, told ABC News that the turbulence caused “phones and cups” to fly around the plane.

She said: “I think we were about 20 minutes from landing when we got into a cloud of hail and thunderstorm, and the turbulence started.

“We could definitely feel the hail coming down on the plane and it was quite loud and super rocky for a minute.”

Oakley said it took pilots about two minutes to guide the plane through the weather patch, and praised cabin crew for doing a “really good job” of calming people down.

She added: “It wasn’t until we exited that we saw the nose was missing! The pilots really did an excellent job keeping things as smooth and safe as they could.”

The plane was eventually able to land safety at Vienna International Airport, and all passengers were unharmed, Austrian Airlines said.

They added its technical team “is already tasked with assessing the specific damage to the aircraft.”

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