A pilot of an Airbus A380 was forced to issue a mayday call and make an emergency landing after the aircraft’s windscreen got cracked by giant hailstones.
The Airbus was on the way from Guangzhou Baiyun International to Beijing International Airport when it got caught in a massive hailstorm at nearly 37,000 feet high.
Following the bashing of the plane, the China Southern Airlines aircraft was severely damaged with pilot barely being able to see through the shattered screen.
Despite the panic the hailstorm caused, He Xianghang, the captain of the plane, was able to follow the protocol and immediately contacted the air traffic control. Approximately one and a half hour later, he safely landed the damaged plane in Beijing.
In shocking images taken by the crew, front and side windows are seen splintered side to side. Another photo also shows the damaged nose of the plane.
While hailstorm encounters are rare when flying above 30,000 feet, this isn’t the first time a plane got badly damaged by hailstones.
“A powerful updraft in a thunderstorm can kick hailstones out of the top into the clear air above the cloud,” retired captain Tom Bunn said in an interview with Inverse.
At the day of the incident, Beijing International was forced to cancel over one-fourth of all scheduled flights due to extreme weather conditions including thunderstorms and heavy rainfall.
Previously, the same airlines were involved in a similar incident in which the windscreen of the plane became “basically opaque” after getting smashed by hailstones. Following the incident, the pilots were forced to navigate the aircraft using nothing but their instruments.
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