Plane Forced to Turn Around After Crew, Passengers Feel Wind Flow from Missing Windows at 14,500 Feet

A passenger aircraft that took off from London last month and was headed to Florida had to turn around following complaints from passengers that it was cold and noisy. The incident occurred, according to an investigation report by the U.K.’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch, on Oct. 4 when an Airbus A321-253NX, with 20 total people aboard, departed London Stansted Airport en route for Orlando. The investigators said after the airplane took off, some aboard the flight complained about the temperature and that the flight was much noisier than usual. The report said, “Several passengers recalled that after takeoff the aircraft cabin seemed noisier and colder than they were used to. As the aircraft climbed through FL100 and the seatbelt signs were switched off, the loadmaster, who had been seated just in front of the other passengers, walked towards the back of the aircraft. “He noticed the increased cabin noise as he approached the overwing exits, and his attention was drawn to a cabin window on the left side of the aircraft. He observed that the window seal was flapping in the airflow and the windowpane appeared to have slipped down.” The person said the noise near the windows was “loud enough to damage your hearing.” At the time, the plane was at an altitude of 14,500 feet. The airplane’s pilot quickly descended to 10,000 feet and again to 9,000 feet before a decision was made to land the aircraft. After 36 minutes in the air, the plane touched down in London without incident. [firefly_poll] The plane’s cabin never lost pressure in spite of the fact that two window panes were missing and a third had been “dislodged.” Upon inspecting the plane from the outside, investigators believe that bright floodlights that had been used to film the aircraft a day before had compromised the integrity of its rear windows. The AAIB’s X (formerly Twitter) account shared an image of the floodlights illuminating the aircraft. “The day before the occurrence flight the aircraft had been used for filming on the ground, during which external lights had been shone through the cabin windows to give the illusion of a sunrise,” the AAIB report stated. The report added, “The lights were first shone on the right side of the aircraft for approximately five and a half hours, with the light focused on the cabin windows just aft of the overwing exits.” Investigators also concluded, “The windows appear to have sustained thermal damage and distortion because of elevated temperatures while illuminated for approximately four to five and a half hours during filming activity the day before the flight … a different level of damage by the same means might have resulted in more serious consequences, especially if window integrity was lost at higher differential pressure.” The investigation into the matter is ongoing.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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