An Airbus A321 was forced to make an emergency landing after passengers noticed that the plane’s windows were damaged. The incident occurred during a charter flight from London’s Stansted Airport to Orlando, Florida.
According to the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), the plane was used for a film shoot the day before. The shoot used very powerful Maxibrute 12 film lights, which were directed at the windows for around 4-5 hours. These lights were placed on both sides of the plane to create a sunrise effect.
Loud noises and melted windows
The following day, during the flight to Florida, the crew heard unusually loud noises at the back of the plane. They then noticed the seal around one of the windows was flapping. This happened at around 15,000 feet after takeoff.
The Titan Airways plane was carrying 11 crew members and nine passengers, including three pilots, an engineer, a loadmaster, and six cabin crew. The flight was forced to return to Stansted around 30 minutes into the flight.
Lights too close
The AAIB revealed that the film lights were closer than the recommended 10-meter minimum distance, resulting in extreme temperatures on the window surfaces.
The excessive heat deformed and detached several acrylic window panes, affecting the aircraft’s structural integrity. The inner pane was also damaged, which is crucial for maintaining cabin pressure. Luckily the problem was spotted before the plane reached an altitude which could cause the cabin to lose pressure.
The plane managed to land in London with everybody onboard safe. However, more damage was later found on the right overwing exit windows and the horizontal stabiliser. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. However, this could have had potentially catastrophic consequences.
I was under the impression that all aircraft have to have proper checks before every flight. I am surprised that this damage was missed, especially after a plane was loaned out for a film production. It seems like a massive oversight by the company that owns the plane.
[Via F Stoppers]