Plane crew discovered a missing window at 13,000ft

  • A US-bound plane took off from London last month with four damaged window panes, including two that were completely missing
  • The missing windows weren’t discovered until the plane was climbing at an altitude of 13,000 feet,
  • The plane managed to land back safely in London after 36 minutes of total flying time

Published on Feb 07, 2024 at 9:26 PM (UTC+4)
by Adam Gray

Last updated on Feb 07, 2024 at 11:09 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

This probably isn’t the news you want to hear if you’re getting on a plane soon.

A US-bound plane took off from London last month with four damaged window panes, including two that were completely missing.

Thankfully no one was injured by the window malfunctions, but the reason behind the issue is bizarre to say the least.

READ MORE! Footage from cockpit of Boeing 747 shows exactly what it’s like for a pilot to takeoff

The plane departed from London Stansted Airport on the morning of October 4th, carrying 11 crew members and nine passengers.

The nine passengers were all employees of the “tour company or the aircraft’s operating company” according to a report from the UK’s Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB).

The single-aisle aircraft, an Airbus A321, has capacity for more than 170 passengers, but the small group of passengers were all seated in the middle of the cabin, just ahead of the overwing exits.

According to the AAIB report, the missing windows weren’t discovered until the plane was climbing at an altitude of 13,000 feet.

“Several passengers recalled that after takeoff the aircraft cabin seemed noisier and colder than they were used to,” the report states.

A crew member walked towards the back of the aircraft, where he spotted a window seal flapping on the left side of the aircraft.

“The windowpane appeared to have slipped down,” the report reads.

“He described the cabin noise as ‘loud enough to damage your hearing.'”

The pilots reduced speed and stopped their ascent as the plane approached 14,000 feet.

The decision was make to turn the aircraft around immediately after an engineer and co-pilot went back to take a look at the window.

Thankfully, the plane landed safely back at Stansted after 36 minutes of flight time, during which the aircraft has remained “pressurized normally,” investigators wrote.

With the plane back on terra firma, crew inspecting the aircraft found a second window pane was also missing and a third was dislodged.

What’s more, a fourth window appeared to be protruding slightly from its frame.

One of the missing window panes was later recovered on the runway during a routine inspection.

The AAIB assessed that the windows may have been damaged by high-power flood lights used during filming the day before the flight.

The lights were used to give the illusion of a sunrise and were placed 20 to 30 feet from the plane.

The lights were first shone on the right, then the left side of the aircraft for over nine hours in total.

The lights appear to have caused foam liner to melt away from at least one of the windows, and several panes appeared to have been warmed by the thermal heat.

Hopefully the plane can be fixed and won’t end up in the world’s largest boneyard.

Just last month, Alaska Airlines flight 1282 experienced a rapid decompression when the door plug – a structure installed in place of an optional emergency door – fell out mid flight.

All 177 passengers on board de-planed safety and amazingly, an iPhone that fell 16,000 feet from the plane survived intact.


Adam Gray

Adam Gray is an experienced motoring journalist and content creator based in the United Kingdom. Using his media accreditation with manufacturers’ press offices, Adam test drives the latest cars and attends new vehicle press launches, producing written reviews and news pieces for Before joining the Supercar Blondie team, Adam was Motoring Editor for Portfolio North magazine, North East Motoring Editor at Reach plc, and provided motoring content on a freelance basis to several lifestyle and business publications in the North of England. When he’s not behind the wheel of the latest car, Adam can be found at his local rink playing ice hockey or supporting his beloved Middlesbrough FC.