An Emirates Boeing 777-300ER was forced to return to Milan Malpensa Airport after encountering severe hail upon departure. The aircraft suffered substantial damage, including shattering both windshields. The 777 landed safely 90 minutes after departure, and no passengers or crew were injured.
According to JACDEC, the incident occurred on Emirates flight EK205 from Milan Malpensa to New York JFK on Tuesday, 13th July. The Boeing 777-300ER departed Milan at 16:23 local time, a few minutes behind schedule. However, weather conditions during departure were less than ideal, and the aircraft quickly faced issues.
Minutes after takeoff, the flight encountered severe hail. While aircraft can usually handle adverse weather events, the hailstorm caused substantial damage to the 777. The incident occurred just five minutes into the flight, with the pilots quickly turning around for an emergency landing.
However, landing a fully-loaded 777 with fuel and passengers is not simple. To avoid a hard landing, the pilots were forced to enter a holding pattern over Milan Airport for an hour and a half. Only once enough fuel had been burned did the aircraft land once again. The flight maintained a relatively low altitude during the hold, flying at 11,000ft and later at around 5,000ft.
Flight EK205 touched in Milan Malpensa once again at 18:04 local time, just over 1 hour and 40 minutes after departure. The aircraft landed safely, and no passengers or crew were injured.
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Flying into severe hail meant the plane took some substantial damage. Two pilot windscreens were shattered by the hail, while several parts of the fuselage saw their paint chipped off. The nose of the 777 also suffered damage, including a crack on the leading edge.
Overall, the plane will require essential repairs before returning to the skies in the near future. Images of the aircraft after landing can be seen below.
🚨 𝘽𝙍𝙀𝘼𝙆𝙄𝙉𝙂 𝙉𝙀𝙒𝙎 🚨
Emirates 777-300ER damaged after encountering hail storm on departure from Milan. Photos by VolaMalpensa. 🛫🤪🤯
💢💢💢💢💢💢💢💢💢💢💢💢#aviationlovers #aviationphotography #aviationdaily #aviationgeek#aviation pic.twitter.com/c4oSrPcjR2
— Extreme Avia (@AviaExtreme) July 13, 2021
At the time of writing, the 777-300ER remains on the ground in Milan. It will likely be a while before Emirates teams can come and perform the required repairs on the aircraft. For now, the carrier will have one less aircraft in active service.
The aircraft involved in the incident is one of Emirates’ oldest. The 777-300ER carries the registration A6-ECF and was delivered in January 2008 to the Dubai-based airline. At 13.5 years, the aircraft is far older than Emirates’ average fleet age of 7.9 years. However, the aircraft has several more years to go before retirement and replacement by the new 777X.
Yesterday’s flight was operating one of Emirates’ fifth freedom services from Milan to New York JFK. The flight originated in Dubai before stopping in Milan to pick up new passengers and continue its journey to the US. The only route resumed on June 1st after a year-long pause due to travel restrictions and low demand.
Have you faced hail while flying? Tell us about your experience in the comments!