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9th of June 2006

An Airbus A321-131 was operating on a domestic route between Jeju International Airport and Seoul-Gimpo International Airport in South Korea. With 200 passengers and a crew of 6, it was the fourth and final leg for the crew on this day.

The nose of the aircraft after landing (Source: © Unknown)

While descending towards Gimpo the crew requested ATC for a heading change to avoid clouds, which was allowed. Shortly afterwards ATC cleared the flight to descent from 16.000 feet (4875 meters) to 11.000 feet to 3350 (meters). During the descent, the crew requested a high speed, which was allowed by ATC, speed increased to approximately 325 knots. A short while later the aircraft encountered some turbulence, which was strong enough to have the seat belt signed turned on and the cabin crew checking if the passengers were "strapped in". Based on radar images the crew then requested a left turn to avoid weather, ATC gave permission for a left turn to a heading of 330º. During this turn, the crew encountered a hailstorm which caused considerable damage to the aircraft;

  • The radome was torn from the aircraft

  • `40 dents in the forward pressure bulkhead

  • Windshoelds cracked

  • Dents and broken rivets on the engine inlets

  • Engine pylons damaged by the radome flying past the aircraft

  • Hail marks on wing and stabilisers

  • Horizontal stabilisers damaged by debris from the radome

The damage was estimated to be in the region of $3.500.000,--

The windshields were cracked sufficiently to Overview of damage to the aircraft. prevent the crew from looking through them. (Source & © ARAIN) Additional system failures were recorded on the;

  • Auto Thrust System

  • Auto Pilot System

  • Flight Director System

The damaged Captains windshield (Source: © Unknown)

The crew were given vectors to the runway and attempted to land twice on runway 14R but had to abort these attempts.

A third attempt was successful and the aircraft landed safely at Gimpo, 34 minutes after the encounter with the hail storm. None of the occupants of the aircraft sustained any injuries. The incident was reported to and investigated by the Aviation and Railway Accident Investigation Board of Korea. In January 2008 they published an (extensive) report on the incident in which they identified the following Probable Causes;

"The flight route selected by the flight 8942 crew in order to avoid the thunderstorm was not separated enough by distance from the thunderstorm, and the alertness to the thunderstorm paid by the flight crew during descending was not sufficient, and the flight direction chosen when in close proximity to the thunderstorm was not appropriate to avoid the thunderstorm."

The report also contains FIndings Related to Risk and Other Findings, the report can be found by clicking here.

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