This dramatic photo shows the damage done to an American Airlines Airbus A319 after it flew through a hailstorm on Sunday.
American Airlines Flight 1897 with 130 passengers and five crew was flying from San Antonio, Texas, to Phoenix, Arizona, when it flew into a massive thunderstorm.
It diverted to El Paso, Texas, after encountering hail on June 3 that shattered the windscreen and crushed the nose of the plane. The nose, or radome, houses the aircraft’s radar equipment.
The plane was flying at 34,000ft and about 115 nautical miles northeast of El Paso when it ran into the severe turbulence and hail, according to The Aviation Herald.
“The crew decided to divert to El Paso initiating a normal descent, entered a hold at 9000 feet to burn off fuel and landed safely in El Paso about 70 minutes after leaving FL340,’’ the website said.
US meteorologists suggested the hail could have been 1.5 inches in diameter but there was at least one suggestion it could have could have been bigger.
Passengers reported seeing lightning and hearing the hail pelt the aircraft.
A passenger on the flight told ABC15 in Arizona that things started going wrong about half an hour into the flight as turbulence started to increase.
There were no injuries but the passenger described cell phones flying in the air, drinks splashing on the ceiling, and people sharing airsick bags.
“I could see people starting to panic and crying and I couldn’t breathe,” she said.
American confirmed that the incident and commended “the great work of our pilots, along with our flight attendants, who safely landed the Airbus A319 “.
Passengers were sent on to Phoenix in a replacement aircraft.
American is fixing the damage to the nose, windshield and a side window but a spokesman told the Associated Press that the engines, including the fan blades, were not damaged.