BMI Flight Badly Damaged During Hailstorm Over Germany
"It was like a hail of bullets and then a huge
thump. Everyone was screaming and we are lucky to be alive.
Everyone clapped and cheered when we landed."
Bruce Johnson is a photojournalist who, along with his wife,
owns several radio stations in New Zealand. Earlier this week, he
was on BMI Flight 8412 from Larnaca, Cyprus, to Manchester,
England, when the Airbus A312 ran smack into a thunderstorm over
More than 200 passengers were on board the flight when, about
two-and-a-half hours into the four-hour long journey, they hit the
storm. The A312 was flying at 34,000 feet when the flight crew told
passengers to return to their seats immediately.
Passenger David Mallen told the BBC, "Within seconds of the
announcement all hell broke loose, to put it mildly - it was a
frightening experience. I have never felt anything like it and I
hope I never feel anything like it again. The plane just dropped
and started vibrating. Everybody was stuck on the ceiling. We were
out of our seats for a few seconds and that happened two or three
times. There were people in the aisles. The pilot said that in his
20 years of flying experience he had never encountered anything
quite like it and, to reassure the passengers, he said it would be
very unlikely if we ever encountered anything like it again."
Mallen's wife said, "It was an extremely terrifying experience
for a few minutes. I really thought we were going down. It was like
a roller coaster, the Big Dipper at Blackpool. Everybody was
screaming and there were people on the floor in the aisles."
The hailstones were as big as golf balls. A BMI spokesman told
BBC, however, none of the aircraft's flight controls, power systems
or navigational equipment was damaged. But, in looking at the
aircraft, you might wonder how the flight crew managed to land the
Airbus. The nosecone was punctured. The windscreen was fractured.
And yet, incredibly, the flight crew was able to land the A312at
its destination - Manchester.
Johnstone told the BBC, "We really didn't realise how bad it was
until we saw the outside of the aircraft. The nose cone was stoved
in and there were crack on the windscreen. It was pretty ragged.
There were some children who were pretty distressed," he added.
A spokesman for BMI said, "The aircraft, as a precautionary
measure, is now with the airline's engineers for a detailed
Correspondent Nathan Morley in Ayia Napa, Cyprus,
contributed greatly to this story.