View Full Version : easyJet B737 Damaged by Hail

15th Aug 2003, 21:32
HB-III returned to GVA outbound to LTN 10 mins after take off. Pax shook up, but OK. Skipper said he's never experienced anything like it. Looks like it will be out of service for a while.

16th Aug 2003, 01:30
Got some pictures - major damage to all leading edges, engines and smashed cockpit screen on both sides. Nose cone caved in and stripped of paint. Looks like a write off to those that claim to know.

If anyone can explain how to attach an image to a Pprune posting ( I failed ) please advise and I will post the lot

16th Aug 2003, 01:44
The damage to the airplane is substantial but certainly not catastrophic. All damaged items are going to be replaced and as soon as the airplane is sort of airworthy(ish) it will be flown to EGSS to receive some TLC from FLS Aerospace. Looks like it will be out of service for in excess of 10 days with a probable spares cost tag in the region of 750K.

Cheers y'all


16th Aug 2003, 02:35
Seems HB-III was due to leave the fleet this weekend anyway, and its replacement will be ready Monday, Big Brother in LTN will cover things until then.

16th Aug 2003, 04:30
Heavy , Try the cut 'n' paste method for the pics ;)

16th Aug 2003, 05:35
An article with a picture here (http://www.tdg.ch/accueil/geneve_en_direct/Article/index.php?Page_ID=5328&article_ID=17980)

16th Aug 2003, 08:00
Hardly an outlier for hail damage. Looks well within the experience band. Unless other data is available, this may turn out to be more of an economic repair issue than a safety issue considering that it was able to fly home.

I wonder how many other flights tried to penetrate the same front/altitude.

16th Aug 2003, 14:06
Apparently the storm was not picked up by the weather radars and no warning was issued.


16th Aug 2003, 17:06
This has happened a few times recently, it appears that the weather radar 'sees' moisture and rain very well, but when it freezes and becomes 'dry' it doesn't show as well. I have had massive returns from what was basically a summer shower and hardly anything out of the tops of a well developed mid atlantic CB.

Any radar boffins out there ?

Robert Vesco
16th Aug 2003, 23:23
Here´s a better picture:


Looks like Topswiss will have to lease another aircraft from Futura. :ouch:

Jet A1
17th Aug 2003, 00:00

17th Aug 2003, 00:04
Meteo Suisse today reports that the storm was clearly visible on radar and advised to departing traffic.

Pilot of previous aircraft to take off deviated around it without, apparently, even experiencing turbulence.

Glad everyone was OK

17th Aug 2003, 01:06
more pics, scroll down (http://www.flightforum.ch/newforum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=15506)

17th Aug 2003, 02:51
well at least they diverted to the nearest airfield unlike some airlines I know!

17th Aug 2003, 05:15
is it me or does it seem like the engine circumference (for lack knowledge what u call it!) took a beasting but the fan blades seem in pretty good shape?

is this a safety design feature for exactly this sorta thing?



The fan blade design is sized for bird ingestion resistance and the resulting robustness easily accomodates up to 2 inch dia hailstones. This is less of a chalenge as the airspeed increases above takeoff (vector stuff).

Unfortunately increasing airspeed is worse for non-rotating structures like leading edges of wings and inlets. Typically major damage begins to show up at about 250 kts thus the need to slow down when entering a front if you want to avoid this kind of damage.

17th Aug 2003, 05:27
Thanks 4 the reply lomapaseo. I've seen the "frozen turkey run" and should have thought of that - sorry to be a bit dappy!

Even though, hailstones have a small surface area and hit at quite some speed so wouldn't a higher force of pressure be exerted at the point of impact?


18th Aug 2003, 03:12
Even though, hailstones have a small surface area and hit at quite some speed so wouldn't a higher force of pressure be exerted at the point of impact?

Nope This is getting a little technical, but both bodies behave as fluid pressure sources and it takes a specific footprint vs mass to cause visible damage. Thus the bird resistance just about washes with the hail resistance at the same conditions and hail is even more easily resisted on spinning fan blades at the higher aircraft speeds associated with climb and descent.

18th Aug 2003, 07:47
matt, the "engine circumference" I believe is usually referred to as the nacelle/nose cowl and in addition to the answers already given, it is made of aluminium alloy whereas the fan blades are made of alloys that are a lot harder and tougher such as titanium/nimonic.

19th Aug 2003, 02:58
On one of the pictures that Landing-24R has put a link to, the is a clear image of the 737 tail section. Looking on the side of the fusilage just under the front of the tail plane is what looks like a slot with further back at about the midpoint, what could be a hing. Am I right in interpreting this as an all moving tail plane ? If so, I never realised that large transports had them . . .just little pipers.

19th Aug 2003, 05:05
Some more detailed bigger pics:

HB-III Nose (http://www.airliners.net/open.file/402670/L/)

No 2 engine/tail (http://www.airliners.net/open.file/402669/L/)

No 2 intake (http://www.airliners.net/open.file/402233/L)


19th Aug 2003, 07:26
I guess i better brush up on the old physics before starting my ATPLs Iomapaseo!


19th Aug 2003, 16:14
Some more pictures (detail shots and views from inside the flight deck) >> here << (http://www.flightforum.ch/newforum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=15506&pagenumber=2) (Swiss Pilots Forum).

Note: The LX F/O who took the pictures kindly asks to respect the copyright of a third party.


20th Aug 2003, 15:22
i was in gva on sat am, and our ground engineer had been to see the a/c in the hangar. The damage is as you see it, all the leading edges badly damaged and landing light covers smashed, However the fan blades were unscathed, no damage at all!! Boeing are on their way to fix a/c apparently.

Airport rumour had it that they had avoided the first CB and got caught in one hiding behind, shrouded by first, or were caught in overhang!

21st Aug 2003, 01:02
Interesting picture. :)

However, I had to type the url into a separate browser window to make it work.

Golden Rivet
21st Aug 2003, 04:18
An expensive repair bill ?

21st Aug 2003, 04:38
Hmm..I wonder if the guy in the left seat will take the golden horse shoe out of his a$$ and have it bronzed. ;)

21st Aug 2003, 04:45
jeez, the airpalne is destroyed....new nose cone, windows, cowls, leading edges. stabilizer......some one is going to get the brunt of someones pointy shoes.

21st Aug 2003, 04:51
Just goes to prove that Boeing products are pretty solidly built.

Send Clowns
21st Aug 2003, 04:58

Was just reading the report on the "open-top" B737 incident out in Hawaii. Decided that if they can withstand that and land then if I ever get the choice, it's Boing. Built to take a pounding.

This just proves it.

21st Aug 2003, 05:50
Send Clowns

<<if I ever get the choice, it's Boing. Built to take a pounding.
This just proves it.>>

Well, I'd say it was 50:50... The BMI A321 took a similar pounding, and he didn't even return - he got the PAX to destination!

All with a large pinch of salt - I'm sure the relevant investigations will produce some useful lessons for us all....


Ralph Cramden
21st Aug 2003, 06:23
Boeing is a pretty useful aircraft but they do have their rudder problems. as to the BMI incident...I'm not familiar but would suggest if the A/C looked like Easy Jet and the Captain didn't land ASAP I wouldn't want to fly with him.

22nd Aug 2003, 18:27
Well done those pilots who brought the EJ 73 back safely to Geneva after getting battered by the hail storm.
Just saw pictures.. amazing stuff:ok:

Kalium Chloride
22nd Aug 2003, 18:33
I'd say a fair amount of credit due to Boeing for building the thing so tough, no?

Anthony Carn
22nd Aug 2003, 18:36
Well done those pilots who brought the EJ 73 back safely to Geneva after getting battered by the hail storm.
And I say - "Well done to those pilots who fly around hailstorms, instead of going through them."


(I'm willing, however, to acknowledge the reduced options departing Geneva, due to terrain clearance requirements.)

Floppy Link
22nd Aug 2003, 18:41
so where are these piccies?

22nd Aug 2003, 18:47
Checkout the Sun newspaper....
No I did'nt buy it, some other flewzy wasted their money and I just took advantage....:p

22nd Aug 2003, 19:37
And I won't say "well done" (or "badly done") to the pilots - does anyone know whether they did "well" flying the aircraft (suspect apart from poor vision (!) it handled OK), or "badly" (flew into a CB everyone else avoided...)

And I don't know whether it was a "well built aircraft" to withstand "such a lashing of hail", or so poorly built to suffer such damage from a couple of bits of light hail!

Shall we see what the enquiry has to say??


22nd Aug 2003, 19:37
Try airliners.net too.

22nd Aug 2003, 19:39
Loads airliners.net and on the other forum..



cargo boy
22nd Aug 2003, 21:52
A little Dickie Bird told me that the BMI Airbus that got pebbledashed a few weeks ago is actually an insurance write-off. Not only would it need all the usual leading edge bits replaced but it would need to be completely re-skinned. Not only that but it suffered some unseen structural damage during the episode. :ugh:

We await the report on that one as it would appear that there was much more to it than has been mentioned so far.:bored:

22nd Aug 2003, 22:03
<<I'm not familiar but would suggest if the A/C looked like Easy Jet and the Captain didn't land ASAP I wouldn't want to fly with him>>
I cannot recall seeing pictures of the BMI A321 in the same detail as we've seen of the EasyJet. From my recollection, the BMI radome was actually punctured (where as the EJ one a large dent?), and one (?) windscreen pane shattered (as opposed to both). However, I don't think the visible leading damage was as bad. I have heard (3rd, if not 4th hand) they descended (as per Windscreen shattered drill) and were then unaware of any reason to divert - fuel allowed them to get to MAN. It was night though, and damage therefore less visible...

We'll see....


23rd Aug 2003, 01:52
Insurance right off? Not so sure as it was an act of god and the insurance does not cover that.
Reading in the local geneva press the other day it claims that EZY will have to pick up the costs of repairs...

23rd Aug 2003, 04:40
Shot of the bmi A321 landing at MAN (http://www.pbase.com/image/17186428)

It's also back in service - noted at MAN on the 15th August.

Ralph Cramden
23rd Aug 2003, 04:54
BMI 321 looks a long way from a write-off Cargo Boy. Back in service you say.

23rd Aug 2003, 09:54
I am sure that the 737 would be able to carry on with the flight and land safely at it's destination.However it was the captain's decision to go back to GVA since he was so close,something the BMI captain didn't do! :ok:
And one more thing for the drivers of the 737 that use the WX radar installed.
It is known that this radar antenna may depict very well the dimensions and intensity of a cell BUT...if another cell is present behind the depicted it tends to "underestimate" or even "omit" the presence of a second buildup.
I wouldn't judge on the cpt's actions with such ease !!;)

23rd Aug 2003, 17:11
Nigelondraft - I would just like to say, don't you think you're being a bit unfair on the EZY captain? The aircraft flew into problems 10 mins after takeoff! Don't you think he used every possible action to return the aircraft safely to the ground? GVA is the nearest airfield, so thats exactly what he did. I would gladly fly with that captain again as he proved that safety is his number one priority, unlike that of his BMI counterpart!
If he is already in a hail storm, he has got to turn round and most probably fly through it again to get out of it ASAP. So I think your judgement is very selfish.

23rd Aug 2003, 17:34

<<I would just like to say, don't you think you're being a bit unfair on the EZY captain?>>
I have made no comment on the actions of the EZ Captain? I have suggested we wait until the inquiry... People have said he has done "well" - what did he do well? Others have said he flew into a CB he should not have? How do they know that?

Please post exactly where I have been "unfair" - I have tried (but may have failed) not to "say" anything - after all, who knows what really went on, apart form the crews themselves...


23rd Aug 2003, 18:01
Forget the rubbish above..........these are the facts : so far !!

The aircraft CRS was signed on the 5th AUG '03.

The aircraft has flown in service continuously since with no problems, myself 'at the wheel' on occaison.

The Captain is back on - line after a brief time stood down whilst the incident was investigated internally by bmi. Note this is standard industry practice !

The Captain has NOT been punished or blamed in any way.

His actions both during & after the incident were naturally questioned, but accepted by bmi.

The nose cone damage looks bad to the layman, but of course it is only fibreglass ! (fuel burn figures are available to the crew).

The data retrieved from 'on-board monitoring' showed that nothing untoward or unusual was indicated to the flight crew. ie the ship flew NORMALLY.

There is NO requirement to divert with 'cracked' screens, the captain elected to descend to the req'd FL230, this reduces the cabin diff. to 5psi.
The fuel remaining was adequate to reach destination, therefore he elected to continue and deliver his pax to the destination they were expecting.

Altogether a job well done in my opinion.

Cargo boy.......get yourself a new dicky bird

Roger Miller.

23rd Aug 2003, 19:45
It is allways easy to find a solution and know everything better
when you are not involved in the case. I want everybody see how
he will react if he is in a similar condition, you can never be in the
same as such decissions are made in the moment the crew has
to find a solution. The "Captain" who returned is as well safe as
the "Captain" who continued to destination.
I had to decide last year about a "Captain" who continued to
destination after he had penetrated heavy hail with GPWS
warning "Terrain" PULL UP "Terrain". This occured in 7000 ft AGL
and also the fire warning went shortly on. The crew flew a escape
manoever for Terrain clearence and then after they came out of
all the warnings the false fire warning went off. The A/P could
be engaged again, the screen came back. The mission was then
completed with destination. The picture was similar to this of
the Bobby from EZY, demage from nose to tail for more then
10 mio US $ on the A330. Some called him a hero, some called
him a dangerous Pilot. The crew got questioned as well. The
answer why they dont returned was: We would not go thru that
weather again and so we flew to destination at low level. Fuel
was not a question, enough juice was in the wings. So how would
the honored aviator judge that case. Remember nobody else then
the two in the first row are sitting in and they see it firsthand and
they make a decission based on that what they encounter in that
moment and, believe me, the Pacific storms are much heavier as
they over central Europe, some scare the shi... out of you !!!.


Capt Groper
23rd Aug 2003, 20:22
A few years ago a similary incident happened to an A320 DXB - MCT. The vision through the windscreens was such that the Capt elected to divert to AUH where an Autoland was completed. A/C wisked off to the hanger forgotten about ever since.
Sorry no pic's avail.:confused:

cargo boy
24th Aug 2003, 07:11
Oh well, I won't be trusting anything that Dicky Bird tells me in future. Thanks for the update. At least that rumour can be quashed. :ouch:

Few Cloudy
31st Aug 2003, 03:17
An easyJet Switzerland 737 has been shown on TV after getting battered by the elements - should be a picture somewhere - showing what vicious power there is in a CB cell - if anyone needed reminding.

Very similar story and similar damage to that of a Spantax DC-9 out of Valencia some years back which did an emergency landing in Barcelona after avoiding the largest echoes and getting into a baby frontal cell. Nothing baby about the hail though - "As big as soup plates" the Captain later said - all the antennas and pitot tubes were gone -one engine stopped - the radome gone and the antenna rumpled - big dents and tears in the slats and the windshields opaque - he landed visually with an open DV window. A team from McDonnell Douglas took a long time to fix it.

That one I saw and tried to get pics (no joy) for crew training. It would be a good thing if someone could get the 737 damage on the web. Very often it's the harmless looking CBs in the building phase which are bad. The EZS damage was soon after takeoff and the ship returned to GVA. Any further info/corrections welcomed.

31st Aug 2003, 03:45

31st Aug 2003, 22:59
HB III departed GVA last week for further work to bring it back on line. All leading edges replaced but flew unpressurised due to forward fuselage damage.

Looks like it will be re skinned forward of the 1L/R doors due to severity of the hail impact damage.

Also told that Pilot was from Parc Aviation replacing EZS pilots off on A319 training.

1st Sep 2003, 00:05
Hope lightening doesn't strike twice, am off on easyJet to Malaga week tomorrow. Fingers and everything else crossed.

3rd Sep 2003, 08:55
As a regular pax, I must admit I do find it a bit unsettling that these incidents can be repeated over time, particularly in these 'hi-tech' times.

Surely some sort of extra weather-avoidance measures must be needed somewhere in the system?? I say this having noticed references to 'hidden' weather cells behind other severe weather in previous posts.

I would hate to see a plane brought down in severe hail, only for the official report to state something along the lines of 'despite many previous warnings of such incidents etc etc'.

I half-expect a tirade of self-righteous abuse on this one, but hopefully level-headed readers will see where I'm coming from...

3rd Sep 2003, 16:44
It seems to me a lot of you guys want to a long way back into the history books - maybe as far back as the Titanic - and do some serious reading...

Wee Weasley Welshman
3rd Sep 2003, 19:07
Weather avoidance it seems to me is an art as much as a science. With all the gadgets in the world you can still get caught out by all manner of shears, CAT and hail.

Whilst the industry strives to make flying as safe as reasonably possible - total safety is an illusionary state that will never be obtained.

I think on balance I take more comfort from this particular hail encounter than I take worry. If the airframe can survive that and the crew return everyone safely to terrafirma then we do indeed have a robust level of safety in place.



5th Sep 2003, 00:19
If the airframe can survive that and the crew return everyone safely to terrafirma then we do indeed have a robust level of safety in place

Sentiments echoed.

Its a good job it does'nt happen too often though. As a 'turbulence fairy', I'm sure I would be put off flying for a year or 10.