A plane flying from London to Orlando, Florida, last month was forced to turn around because some window glass was missing or damaged, startling passengers who reported hearing rumbling noises inside the cabin, authorities said.
The plane, an Airbus A321, had four damaged window panes, including two completely missing, when it took off from London Stansted Airport on October 4. According to a report It was published by the British Air Accident Investigation Branch last week.
The authorities said that there were no casualties on board the plane, which was carrying 11 crew members and nine passengers who were seated in the middle of the plane, all of whom were employees of “a tourism company or the plane operating company.”
The names of the companies were not included in the report.
After takeoff, some passengers noticed that “the plane’s cabin seemed noisier and colder than they were accustomed to,” according to the report. A person walking toward the back of the plane noticed a loud noise and saw that the window seal was flapping and that the window glass appeared to have slid down.
This passenger described the cabin noise to the investigator as “loud enough to damage your hearing,” the report states.
The cabin crew were informed and, after further inspection of the window, they agreed to return the aircraft to Stansted Airport.
Investigators said the plane remained at normal pressure throughout the 36-minute flight.
Once the plane landed, crew members found the glass of the other three damaged windows.
The report said that the day before the flight, the plane was used for filming on the ground, and external lights were shone on it for more than five hours “to give the illusion of sunrise,” authorities said.
But authorities said the hot lights caused thermal damage and distortion to the windows.
The report warned that although the incident ended “quietly,” a more serious level of damage “may have led to more serious consequences, particularly if the integrity of the window was lost at high differential pressure.”
In 2018, a person was killed on a Southwest Airlines flight from New York to Dallas when an engine exploded in midair, shattering a window and causing a woman to be partially pulled from the plane, resulting in fatal injuries.
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