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Austrian A320 hail encounter near VIE

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Austrian A320 hail encounter near VIE

Old 10th Jun 2024, 08:39
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Austrian A320 hail encounter near VIE

This is the worst hail damage I have ever seen. The radome is basically gone...

https://abcnews.go.com/International...y?id=110970221

https://www.austrianwings.info/2024/...t-beschaedigt/

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Old 10th Jun 2024, 09:16
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I must say as a mainly GA pilot I have difficulty understanding how , with an onboard wx radar, you can fly into a CB with hail storm in a area also ATC covered with ground radars. . The area must be deep red in all ,the displays . Is it the disconnection from "feeling" the outside and focus on following the optimum route of what the FMS says regardless of what is outside that prevent the good old weather deviations ? I ask the question because I see this more often , , the SIN 777 also comes to mind .
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Old 10th Jun 2024, 09:40
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Looks a lot like what happened to VC10 G-ARVB back in 1968: https://www.vc10.net/History/inciden..._ice_encounter
I guess indications were not affected by the lost radome in this particular situation.
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Old 10th Jun 2024, 09:50
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There must be more to the story...

Northern and northwestern Styria is crossed by multiple SIDS and STARS from and to VIE. The area is a known home to CBs that really mean business and has often been generously avoided due to this. Also, the synoptic weather situation is not exactly new: the news have been full of reports on heavy thunderstorms, flash floods, earth slides and so on in that area for the last weeks.

VIE ATC is extremely flexible and helpful in such weather situations. They reduce the traffic flow rate to accomodate for detours and in my experience, whatever may be required will be granted. But still, those requests have to come from the flight crews and are not given pro-actively from controllers.

Before offering an opinion, I would be most interested to see the weather radar picture as seen from the aircraft and also a view from the flight deck windows. Hail, especially its drier variants, is notoriously hard to see on a weather radar. A look out of the window to check for overhanging anvils that are prone to throwing that stuff is never a bad idea but may not always be possible in case of embedded CBs.
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Old 10th Jun 2024, 10:50
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Originally Posted by Tu.114
Hail, especially its drier variants, is notoriously hard to see on a weather radar. A look out of the window to check for overhanging anvils that are prone to throwing that stuff is never a bad idea but may not always be possible in case of embedded CBs.
And there lies the much of the problem. You can be avoiding radar returns like the plague in IMC (or even VMC at lower levels) and still run into damaging hail on thankfully rare occasions, like this one. Iím pretty sure the pilots were aware of the risks as they operate in and around the Alps all the time (Austrian Airlines) but sometimes itís just not your day.
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Old 10th Jun 2024, 12:04
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And yet, when you ignore all the usual 'click bait' stories online, surely this was just a case of making a Cat3 ILS approach and let the Airbus do what it's good at. Not that your average passenger would know about that, but it's really just a 'nothing to see here' story - well apart from the busted nose LOL
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Old 10th Jun 2024, 12:30
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Originally Posted by ATC Watcher
I must say as a mainly GA pilot I have difficulty understanding how , with an onboard wx radar, you can fly into a CB with hail storm in a area also ATC covered with ground radars. . The area must be deep red in all ,the displays . Is it the disconnection from "feeling" the outside and focus on following the optimum route of what the FMS says regardless of what is outside that prevent the good old weather deviations ? I ask the question because I see this more often , , the SIN 777 also comes to mind .
No, basic safety and preservation of life takes over in a CB field.

Weather Radar only reliably detects wet rain or wet hail. If the hail is very dry, i.e. very cold, it might not show as red or orange. Ice particles reflect Radar only 20% as much as water particles, so even big hail clouds might not show (any) returns, if the hail is completely frozen.

Lidar systems to better detect solid moving objects such as hail have been proposed, but I am not aware of any in use yet ? Problem would be their use of emissions in the visible light or near visible light regions of the magnetic spectrum, potentially causing issues with other pilot's eyesight ?

This aircraft has obviously flown right into a patch of big, frozen hail, probably under an anvil which was not 'painting' on their Radar. Ironically, they probably avoided the main cell in the cloud, only to hit the hail falling from the anvil part.

Incredible how strong those cockpit windows are !
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Old 10th Jun 2024, 13:35
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@ Uplinker :
Weather Radar only reliably detects wet rain or wet hail. If the hail is very dry, i.e. very cold, it might not show as red or orange. Ice particles reflect Radar only 20% as much as water particles, so even big hail clouds might not show (any) returns, if the hail is completely frozen.
Thanks for that , I was not aware on that fact I assumed hail was always wet , l learned something today .
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Old 10th Jun 2024, 13:41
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I once flew for a company that insisted that "pilot related" damage to the aircraft had to be paid for by the pilot! That could spoil your retirement plans?
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Old 10th Jun 2024, 13:53
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There will be an official investigation by the Austrian safety investigation board (AAIB equivalent), so there will most probably be information on the flight path vs the ground-based weather radar image.

Certainly one of the flights one is glad not to have had the chance to save the day. I am very keen to know if the crew felt a significant change to flight characteristics. While that Airbus nose is quite blunt to start with, it must have gained in drag after that encounter.

Hail avoidance remains one of the less exact aspects of our profession.

BTW, one Austrian tabloid TV channel reported the hail to have been so bad as to rip off the whole propeller...
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Old 10th Jun 2024, 13:58
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Originally Posted by Uplinker
Weather Radar only reliably detects wet rain or wet hail. If the hail is very dry, i.e. very cold, it might not show as red or orange. Ice particles reflect Radar only 20% as much as water particles, so even big hail clouds might not show (any) returns, if the hail is completely frozen.
That's a big reason why Ice Crystal Icing (ICI)can be so potentially dangerous - it shows up poorly if at all on weather radar.
We actually recommend that pilots periodically redirect the weather radar down to detect convective weather cells well below the aircraft altitude, since they can direct large concentrations of ICI up to very high altitudes above the cell yet provide next to nothing on radar.

BTW, were they following ATC instructions at the time? Got hit by lightning on a flight test one time (did some rather expensive damage to the aircraft) - the pilots were seriously upset with ATC as they had basically put them in a spiraling descent right in the middle of the cell and left them there until we eventually took the strike.
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Old 10th Jun 2024, 13:59
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I cannot find a reference but in the late 1970's a "Kuwait Airways B737" made an outstanding safe landing in Bahrain; the hail damage to the flight deck windows and leading edges was enormous , the Capt. was 'hailed' a hero--- until the radar picture was examined for the storm they had flown through.
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Old 10th Jun 2024, 14:01
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These images have just been posted by the Telegraph newspaper.




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Old 10th Jun 2024, 15:22
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Had a Bavaria Airlines BAC 1-11 back at Hurn, that flew through hail around 1973. The skin above the cockpit, the leading edges of the wings and empennage and engine intakes had to be replaced. I think the radome and windscreens were replaced in Germany before it flew to Hurn.
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Old 10th Jun 2024, 19:21
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Originally Posted by tdracer
That's a big reason why Ice Crystal Icing (ICI)can be so potentially dangerous - it shows up poorly if at all on weather radar.
We actually recommend that pilots periodically redirect the weather radar down to detect convective weather cells well below the aircraft altitude, since they can direct large concentrations of ICI up to very high altitudes above the cell yet provide next to nothing on radar.

BTW, were they following ATC instructions at the time? Got hit by lightning on a flight test one time (did some rather expensive damage to the aircraft) - the pilots were seriously upset with ATC as they had basically put them in a spiraling descent right in the middle of the cell and left them there until we eventually took the strike.
Query from a well-retired meteorologist: is the wavelength of aircraft weather radar fixed, and indeed fixed to detect objects from cloud droplet to rain drop size?
If so, a centimetric length might help detect mature hail.
Am I re-inventing the wheel, or asking the impossible please?

Last edited by langleybaston; 10th Jun 2024 at 19:21. Reason: speelin
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Old 10th Jun 2024, 23:08
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I'd be interested to know if that's a waveguide, or if the interpretation of the returns is done before being sent through the bulkhead.

Had a Bavaria Airlines BAC 1-11 back at Hurn, that flew through hail around 1973. The skin above the cockpit, the leading edges of the wings and empennage and engine intakes had to be replaced. I think the radome and windscreens were replaced in Germany before it flew to Hurn.
Eeeew. Expensive. A tad before that I had a BAC 1-11 screen fail for no apparent reason. It was spitting hot bits at us until the heating was turned off. (first item) 3,000 quid back then for one pane. About the price of a house near the coast. Those leading edges were very tough, IIRC, cut from the solid and then normalized in an oven. Circa 1970, one airline paid under 700k each for two low mileage ex American Airlines (plus 60k + for putting it on the British register) so repairing the Bavarian one must have been a tough decision.
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Old 11th Jun 2024, 04:55
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If I recall the BAC 1-11 wing L.E's were malleable enough that a steel roller could be used to smooth the orange peel surface, easier to replace the later used transparent tape, but hail golf ball size got the B737.
Yes ex AA BAC 1-11's found their way into Nassau, my 1st overseas posting; AA had spliced in sockets for their early DIY diagnostic kits which were fitted in cosmetic cases.

Last edited by aeromech3; 11th Jun 2024 at 04:56. Reason: Wing L.E's
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Old 11th Jun 2024, 06:08
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Originally Posted by Xray4277
And yet, when you ignore all the usual 'click bait' stories online, surely this was just a case of making a Cat3 ILS approach and let the Airbus do what it's good at. Not that your average passenger would know about that, but it's really just a 'nothing to see here' story - well apart from the busted nose LOL
With the nose (cone) that much damaged, I'd say the airflow around the pitot tubes to be that much influenced that the airspeed derived from the pressures is all over the place, except the one the flying surfaces experience. As such, a Cat-IIIx autoland may go all over the place, except for a suitable smooth touchdown.
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Old 11th Jun 2024, 07:19
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WideScreen.

Good point, I seem to recall on at least one type I flew radome damage was one of the triggers for running the airspeed unreliable checklist.
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Old 11th Jun 2024, 07:28
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I guess the pitot probes are a bit further back on an A320 than they are on a VC10 (see my post #3 above). It would be too much to hope for to have a Hunter flying alongside in this situation too.

I wonder what the autopilot can do to circumvent an unreliable airspeed situation. It looks like the static ports are pretty close to the radome, but they are not as susceptible to disturbed airflow as the pitots will be.
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