What happens when you fly a 747 through a hail storm at 500 miles/hour? Very, very bad things. Check out these photos of a Delta 747 on the ground in Korea after just such an experience.
Okay, so the radome on the nose is beaten up pretty badly. But it is mostly designed to do that. The wings, on the other hand, are not really supposed to be abused like this.
The flight was DL159 on 16 June 2015 from Detroit to Seoul. The aircraft (N664US) has not flown since then and it is rumored it will be scrapped in Seoul rather than repaired to fly out. Delta had already retired a few 744s to the desert and one was recently pulled out of retirement to help get the fleet back to normal.
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I wonder at what point does the pilot tell the Chinese he is going around the storm and to send fighters up to escort him if they want. If this plane needs to be scrapped (even acknowledging it is an old 747-400) I can’t imagine the plane wasn’t in at least somewhat serious danger flying through the storm.
The pilots are on the plane too, I’m sure if they felt seriously in danger they would do whatever they had to do within reason. And it isn’t like it was North Korea where the ground may be more dangerous, it was China, a nation which the U.S. has at least okay relations with.
Funny title! I’d say the Delta jumbojet attacked the hail given the hail has no control where it would go! 😉
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