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6th of July 2001, Hail Strike, Blog #659

With a crew of 14 and 197 passengers, a Lockheed L-1011 Tristar 150 was planned to operate a charter flight from Lyon Saint-Exupéry Airfield (France) to Berlin-Schönefeld Airport (Germany). After all the preparations were completed the three Rolls Royce RB-211-22B engines were started and at 16:46 lt (local time) the aircraft lifted off from runway 18R at Lyon Saint-Exupéry Airfield.

The windshields after landing (Source & © BEA)

During the initial climb, the flight was handed off to the next controller, approximately 4 minutes after becoming airborne. A new heading of 350° was requested by the crew to avoid active cloudline which the crew observed on their weather radar. The heading change was approved and the flight was also cleared to climb to flight level 160 (16.000 feet with a standard barometer setting of 29.92 inHg / 1013 hPa) After several additional clearances the crew observed an active cell in front of them while turning to the MOREG reporting point in the climb to flight level 190. The commander of the flight (who was Pilot Monitoring, PM) advised the copilot to tighten the turning by increasing the bank angle to ~45°. At 16:56 (lt), while still in the turn to the MOREG reporting point the aircraft flew through a band of hail, lasting about 1 to 2 seconds. Two seconds later the aircraft flies through another band of hail, this time for about 10-15 seconds. During this second hail encounter the commander takes control of the aircraft, banking the aircraft close to 60°, expediting the turn to the reporting point. During this manoeuvre, the aircraft lost 500 feet in altitude. The crew observed on their weather radar that they passed the active cell at a distance of ~5 nautical miles.

The damaged radome and nose section (Source & © BEA)

ATC is contacted with the request to return to Lyon but does not declare an emergency. Descent procedures are completed following the standard operating procedures. The passengers were informed by the crew of the initiated return to Lyon. All the aircraft systems, including the engines operated normally. Both the windshields were badly damaged, with the commander's windshield sustaining the most damage. As he had the best visibility the co-pilot was the PF again for the approach and landing at Lyon. At 17:16 (lt), 30 minutes after take off, the aircraft landed without further problems at Lyon Saint-Exupéry Airfield.

Damage to the aircraft was extensive;

  • Hail impact damage on the entire fuselage

  • Hail impact damage on the wings and the leading edges

  • Hail impact damage on the radome

  • Service panels and antennae were torn off by the hail

  • The outer layer of both windshields was cracked extensively

  • The landing lights were destroyed

  • The engine inlets were punctured and damaged

The damage was so extensive that the aircraft was written off as damaged beyond repair.

The accident was investigated by the Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la sécurité de l’aviation civile (BEA - French Office for Investigation and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety). In their report (which served as the source for this blog) they concluded;

"This accident was caused by the aircraft crossing an area with active clouds, the representation of these clouds on the crew's radar displays as not representative of the severity and transience of the phenomena encountered.

Although the crew chose to avoid the most active sector of this stormy focus,

it nevertheless passed into a zone whose chromatic representation on

the onboard radar did not show actual activity."

Damaged wing to body-fairing and wing leading edge (Source & © BEA)

The BEA report (in French) can be accessed by clicking on the .pdf file below;

6Jul2024 L1011 Tristar Hail Strike
Download PDF • 9.58MB

** Editorial note **

V2 Aviation - Training & Maintenance has not been able to obtain an investigation report in English on this accident. This blog is therefore based on a translation of the report in Frencgh Should there be inconsistencies in the blog don't hesitate to get in touch with us. There are two possibilities to do that, via the comments function at the bottom of this page or via the contact page of the website.

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