Aeronautical Malpractice II: Flying Through a Hailstorm

On June 5, 2018, I posted a piece about an American Airlines flight that flew right through the core of a hailstorm with predictable results. 

Unfortunately, there has been a nearly identical incident; this time in Paraguay Wednesday evening. 

Below is a screen capture of lightning flashing outside of the plane. 

The Daily Mail has coverage. The nose cone of this aircraft is in even worse shape than the American flight. The radar antenna is completely gone and the windscreens are shattered. The radar is turned parallel to the camera. The antenna is still there. 

This thunderstorm encounter was even less excusable (if that's possible) than the American Airlines' (AA) encounter as it was night and lightning would have been visible before the plane entered the storm. That should have prompted the crew to closely examine the onboard radar using varying tilts. That they didn't, as with the AA example, is aeronautical malpractice. 

I will also raise a new issue: where are the flight dispatchers?! The captain and the flight dispatcher are -- by aviation law -- jointly responsible for the safe conduct of the flight. They are able to see the moment by moment position and altitude of the plane as well as the ground-based radar. In these thunderstorm cases, are they intervening by sending updated info to the flight crew?

Commercial aviation is amazingly safe. That is why these thunderstorm encounters are so mystifying: both were obvious yet they occurred anyway. I continue to be concerned that there is a subset of pilots today that do not have sufficient respect for thunderstorms and what they can do to any aircraft. 

Thank goodness the plane safely made it to the ground. 

Here is a video with more on this incident. He has the typical airline pilot attitude, "hey we might have endangered the lives of the passengers but we got everything on the ground so, 'no harm, no foul.'"

Hat tip: John Robinson. 


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