TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A plane flying from England to Orlando was forced to turn around when crew members discovered multiple window panes were missing.
According to a report from the United Kingdom’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), several passengers on the Oct. 4 flight noticed it was “noisier and colder than they were used to” after taking off from London’s Stansted Airport.
The 11 crew members and nine passengers on board the plane were identified as “employees of the tour operator or aircraft operating company,” according to the AAIB report, and were seated near the over-wing exits. A man walked to the back of the plane and discovered “the window seal was flapping in the airflow and the windowpane appeared to have slipped down.”
The crew member described the noise to investigators as “loud enough to damage your hearing” as the plane reached 14,000 feet. After inspecting the windows, the crew decided to return to Stanstead, and the plane landed safely.
The flight lasted 36 minutes in total, according to the AAIB report.
Despite the damaged windows, the cabin never lost pressurization. After shutting down the plane, crews found two windows were missing window panes and a third pane was dislodged.
Investigators learned that the plane in question was used for filming the day before the flight. The production included external lights shining into the windows to give the illusion of sunlight for several hours, according to the report.
When crews removed the cabin lining near the affected windows, they discovered the “foam ring material on the back of the cabin liners” was melted and the window panes were “deformed and shrunk.” Investigators found more damaged windows on the same side of the plane.
“Whereas in this case the damage became apparent … and the flight was concluded uneventfully, a different level of damage by the same means might have resulted in more serious consequences, especially if window integrity was lost at higher differential pressure,” the AAIB report stated.
AAIB intends to continue the investigation, according to the report, “to understand how a similar occurrence can be prevented from occurring again.”