VIENNA (dpa-AFX) - A hailstorm has severely damaged an aircraft operated by Lufthansa subsidiary Austrian Airlines (AUA). Among other things, the nose of the aircraft was torn off. However, the Airbus A320 landed safely in Vienna on Sunday evening, the Austrian airline said on Monday. The 173 passengers and 6 crew members on board were unharmed.

The flight had taken off from Palma de Mallorca. On the approach to Vienna, the plane got caught in a thunderstorm cell, according to AUA. "Due to the damage, the Mayday emergency call was made", the airline reported.

Damaged cockpit windows

One of the passengers told the "Kronen Zeitung" that a violent shaking could be felt during the flight. "The landing was a little more bumpy than normal," he said. The pilot then informed the passengers that the plane's windshield was broken.

However, the damage was more extensive. A photo uploaded to Platform X by the severe weather center in Vienna showed the affected Airbus A320 at Vienna Airport with a missing nose and cockpit windows that had become opaque due to the hailstorm. According to AUA, the aircraft's panels were also damaged. An AUA technical team is already in the process of inspecting the aircraft.

Storm not visible on radar

According to the airline, it is the pilots' task to monitor the forecast and current weather situation along the entire flight route. The crew of this flight stated that the thunderstorm cell was not visible on the weather radar. "The incident lasted only a few seconds," said a spokeswoman about the flight through the hailstorm.

Hailstones can cause considerable damage due to their high kinetic energy. According to the German Weather Service, large hail is formed in thunderstorm cells with a high liquid water content, in which air moves at high speed in a vertical direction. The ice particles can form at temperatures just below freezing point./al/DP/ngu