A Delta Air Lines 767-300 diverted to Rome after encountering a punishing hailstorm upon takeoff from Milan. The damage to the 767 is extensive.
Delta Air Lines 767-300 Flies Into Hailstorm, Diverts To Rome After Severe Damage
On July 24, 2023, DL185 took off from Milan (MXP) enroute to New York (JFK). The flight was operated by a Boeing 767-300 aircraft that is about 26 years old.
During takeoff, the aircraft encountered severe turbulence and hail. The flight crew noticed that the aircraft had sustained some rather serious damage and upon reaching 23,000 feet decided to change course and divert to Rome (FCO).
It is not clear why the aircraft diverted to Rome instead of returning to Milan, though I would imagine the poor weather played a role. Delta flies out of both airports, but Rome is also home to SkyTeam (for now) partner ITA Airways, which flies from Rome to New York three times daily, as does Delta.
Per the Aviation Herald, the aircraft sustained immense damage including:
- cracked windshield
- dents along the leading edges of both wings
- punctures to the right wing
- punctures to both engine spinners
- damage to fan blades
- punctured radome (nose)
I always hesitate before being an armchair pilot, but I think it is reasonable to ask a few questions:
- Could this problem have been avoided?
- Why did it not happen to any other planes departing MXP on Monday?
- Were weather reports carefully reviewed?
The damage looks severe, but whether this aircraft is written off or not will more likely depend upon whether there is any underlying damage. The nose can be replaced (I just saw it a couple of days ago on United…photo below). But just like the human body, the key will be any harm to the underlying organs.
I don’t know if I am alone, but I look up to pilots tremendously, generally find them to be an honorable group of men and women, and of course, fully entrust my life to them without batting an eye. I may not always agree on labor relations, but who can begrudge anyone for wanting the best deal for their time? And yet here, I am not going to praise the pilots for landing the aircraft safely just yet. If they did assume an unreasonable risk by flying into a storm, there should be no praise for minimizing the damage they inflicted.
A Delta 767 suffered extensive damage after flying into a hailstorm while departing Milan Malpensa. No injuries were reported, though it is not clear if the aircraft can be saved or not. The most pressing question is why this happened to this particular Delta 767-300 and to other aircraft that departed MXP around that time.