A plane took off from London Stansted Airport with missing windows after the use of high-powered lights for a filming event damaged the aircraft’s glass.
The AAIB (Air Accident Investigation Branch) said the Airbus A321 plane, previously used by the government, returned to Essex Airport after a crew member discovered the problem in the first minutes of the flight last month.
The agency warned that the incident could have had “more serious consequences.”
An inspection revealed that two glass panes were missing from the cabin windows and two others were incorrectly positioned.
In the case of the missing windows, the only object covering the gap was a cosmetic piece of plastic designed to prevent passengers from touching the exterior windows.
The plane was operated by Titan Airways and used by TCS World Travel, a luxury vacation company based in the United States.
The incident occurred a day after the aircraft was used for filming. The AAIB explained in a preliminary report that powerful lights were installed near the parked plane to “give the illusion of a sunrise.”
They were attached to the right side of the plane for approximately five and a half hours and then placed on the left side for four hours.
The AAIB mentioned that the lights were designed to be deployed no closer than 10 meters from the illuminated object, but were between six and nine meters away from the damaged windows.
The report did not reveal the reason for the filming.
The plane had taken off for the positioning flight to Orlando, Florida, on October 4. The 11 crew members and nine passengers were employees of the tour operator or the plane, according to the report.
The passengers sat together in the middle seats of the plane.
After takeoff and the seat belt signs were turned off, a crew member walked to the rear of the plane and saw that the seal around one of the windows was “waving,” the AAIB explained.
The man reported it to the crew, who decided that the plane should return to Stansted and it managed to land safely. It had reached an altitude of 4,420 meters during the flight.
The AAIB added that “the cabin was maintained at a normal pressure.”
An examination of the area around the missing or damaged windows found that the foam used to hold them in place had melted due to high temperatures or had not been applied.
The damaged windows were “deformed and shrunken,” the AAIB detailed.
In conclusion, the report states: “Although in this case the damage was evident around FL100 (3,048 meters) and the flight was performed without incident, in the same circumstances a different level of damage could have occurred with more serious consequences. , especially if the integrity of the window would have been affected at a higher differential pressure.”
Titan Airways and TCS World Travel have been contacted for comments.
Translation of Michelle Padilla