One of American Airlines’ new Boeing 787 Dreamliners was badly battered by hail on a flight from Beijing to Dallas Monday and had to turn back.
The Texas-bound Flight 88 carrying 209 passengers and a crew of 13 on board returned to Beijing after sustaining hail damage 44 minutes into the voyage, said airline spokeswoman Andrea Huguely.
The pilots landed the banged up aircraft safely, and no injuries were reported.
Photos and cellphone videos taken by passengers and bystanders show that the Dreamliner’s nose was smashed in under the barrage of hail.
A pair of passengers from Flight 88 later shared their experiences of flying through a severe hail storm in an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America.
‘All we can tell you it was crazy. We were going sideways, up and down,’ said one traveler. ‘We dropped a good 300 feet, at least.
His companion chimed in: ‘I thought the plane was going down, actually.’
American has seven Dreamliners, which carry a list price of $224.6million each after a recent 2.9 per cent price hike. Airlines, however, routinely get big discounts.
The airline put the planes into service in May in the US, then between Dallas and Beijing and Buenos Aires in early June.
The plane’s fuselage and wings are made largely from carbon-fiber composite material instead of aluminum to reduce weight, making the plane more fuel-efficient.
This is not the first time that a hail storm left a plane the worse for wear.
Last month, Delta Air Lines Flight 159 from Detroit to Seoul, South Korea, had its nose cone badly damaged by hail while flying over China, leaving a massive hole in the front.
The 26-year-old Boeing 747 has been permanently grounded as a result of the incident.