An Emirates flight from Milan to new York JFK was forced to return to Milan when the Boeing 777 was pelted by large hail, causing 'significant' damage to the aircraft.
Emirates Flight EK 205 left Milan (by way of Dubai) on Tuesday, July 13th. Within 2 hours of being in the air, the plane started incurring damage when reports of hail as 'big as tennis balls' struck the 777.
Once Flight 205 returned to Milan they had to circle the field for approximately 90 minutes to burn off excess fuel before landing.
There were no injuries reported.
Incident B777-300 A6-ECF on 13.07.2021 at Milan; flight Emirates EK205 from Milan Malpensa/MXP (Italy)?? to New York/JFK (New York, US)??. After the plane flew through the hail, were damaged the nose cone, engine inlets, wing and it cracked windshield. The flight returned to MXP. pic.twitter.com/gc7x4iZvtd— Tomáš Semrád (@Tomas40916602) July 15, 2021
777 Entered Hailstorm Over Swiss Alps
The pilot reported entering a hailstorm at 15,000 feet over the Italian and Swiss Alps, according to Milan's airports authority. Severe thunderstorms were reported across northern Europe at the time. "After about 97 minutes from take-off [the plane] returned to Malpensa," the agency said.
The Emirates flight was to be a transatlantic journey, meaning the plane had a full tank of fuel. It's standard practice to burn most of the extra fuel in a holding pattern to limit the possibility of an explosive touch-down if the hailstorm had damaged wing flaps or landing gear.
Reports also say pilots needed two attempts to land as strong winds caused approach problems for the flight.
The photos and Tweets show that the Boeing 777 suffered damage to at least the radome, parts of the wings, and the cockpit windshield.