INCIDENT: A320 Pilots Land “Blind” After Hail Damage

By Spyros Georgilidakis | June 10, 2024

An Austrian Airlines Airbus A320 suffered a lot of damage from hail after entering a thunderstorm, but its pilots managed to land it safely.

This incident happened on Sunday the 9th of June, involving Austrian Airlines flight OS-434, which originated at Palma de Mallorca Airport (LEPA) in Spain. The flight’s destination is Vienna International Airport (LOWW).

The incident aircraft, about a year ago. Photo: MarcelX42, CC BY-SA 4.0

Austrian Airlines performs this flight twice weekly, on the weekends, departing from Mallorca at 3:20 PM. On the day of this hail damage incident, the A320 crew departed using runway 24R, with a half-hour delay.

The crew climbed to FL340 for their cruise, with most of the flight being uneventful, until after the crew started their descent. They were reportedly descending through FL200, flying over Hartberg, Styria (Austria), when the A320 flew through hail, in a thunderstorm.

INCIDENT: A320 Pilots Land “Blind” After Hail Damage
Photo: @OnDisasters via X

A320 Crew Lands After Hail Encounter

After the flight, the crew reportedly stated that the thunderstorm didn’t appear on their weather radar. In any case, the hail broke apart most of the aircraft’s radome. It also damaged the aircraft’s windshield, severely limiting the pilots’ front view.

Following their hail encounter, the A320 flight crew briefly leveled off, before declaring an emergency. After going through their checklists, the pilots landed on runway 11 in Vienna, approximately 20 minutes after the incident.

INCIDENT: A320 Pilots Land “Blind” After Hail Damage
Photo: @OnDisasters via X

None of the 173 passengers and 6 crew on board suffered any injuries, disembarking using airstairs after the aircraft came to a stop at a remote stand. As of this writing, the aircraft has remained on the ground in Vienna since the incident flight.

This aircraft is an Airbus A320-214, with registration OE-LBM. It is 23 years old, and first entered service in 2001 with LTU. In 2008 it became part of the fleet of LTU’s successor, Air Berlin, until 2013, when it became part of Austrian Airlines. Austrian has named it Arlberg. Today, the airline has a total of 29 A320s in its fleet, plus 5 A320neos.


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