Austrian Airlines flight lands safely in Vienna after hailstones rip away nose cone

An Austrian Airlines flight landed safely in Vienna after a severe hailstorm tore away much of the plane’s nose cone and left the front windows riddled with cracks.

Flight OS434, a 23-year-old Airbus SE A320, encountered the storm after leaving Palma de Mallorca at 3:55 p.m. on Sunday, AirLive, which tracks aviation emergencies, reported on its website.

Photos posted online showed the nose radome, the aerodynamic shell covering the front of the airplane, mostly stripped away, leaving the jet’s substructure exposed, and the remainder of the skin pocked with dents where the hailstones had struck.

The two windows directly in front of the pilots were heavily damaged but intact.

Aircraft are built to withstand severe weather situations, including hail, lighting strike and turbulence. The impact from tricky weather has become a more closely watched occurrence following two episodes in recent weeks in which passengers on long-distance flights were thrown around the cabin after the aircraft flew through pockets of turbulence.

In the first of those episodes, aboard a Singapore Airlines aircraft, one person died and many were seriously injured.

In Sunday’s incident, the Austrian pilots declared an emergency and landed safely in Vienna, the airline said in a post on X. No passengers were harmed.

“The airplane encountered a storm cell on its approach to Vienna, which according to the pilots, was not visible on the weather radar,” the airline said. “Based on the current assessment, the hail damaged cockpit windows, the plane’s nose and some panels.”

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