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A flight departed from Stansted Airport with windows that were missing because they were damaged by high-powered lights during a filming event.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said the Airbus A321 jet, previously used by the Government, returned to the Essex airport after a crew member discovered the issue early in the flight last month.
The occurrence was cautioned to have potentially led to “more severe repercussions”.
Upon inspection, it was discovered that two windowpanes were absent from the cabin and two others were not in their proper positions.
The only item found in place of the missing windowpanes was the scratch pane, a plastic piece meant for appearance purposes to prevent passengers from touching the outer panes.
Titan Airways operated the aircraft which was utilized by TCS World Travel, a luxury holiday company based in the US.
The event occurred one day after the plane was used for filming on the ground. The AAIB stated in a preliminary report that strong lights were placed near the plane to create the appearance of a sunrise.
For approximately five and a half hours, the lights were on the right side of the plane before being shifted to the left side for four hours.
The AAIB reported that the lights were intended to be placed at a minimum distance of 10 meters away from the illuminated object. However, they were positioned between six and nine meters from the windows that were damaged.
The purpose of the filming was not revealed.
On October 4th, the aircraft departed for its flight to Orlando, Florida. There were a total of 11 crew members and nine passengers on board, all of whom were employees of either the tour company or the airline. This information was stated in the report.
The travelers were seated together in the center of the aircraft.
According to the AAIB, a crew member noticed that after the seatbelt signs were turned off and the plane was in flight, one of the windows had a loose seal and was causing a flapping noise.
He informed the crew, who determined that the plane should go back to Stansted, and it successfully landed there.
The flight reached a height of 14,500 feet.
According to the AAIB, the cabin maintained normal pressurization.
Upon inspection of the vicinity of the absent or impaired windows, it was discovered that the foam utilized to secure them was either melted as a result of extreme heat or was absent altogether.
The AAIB reported that the windowpanes were distorted and reduced in size due to damage.
The report concluded that while the aircraft experienced damage at approximately 10,000 feet and the flight proceeded without incident, a greater level of damage under similar circumstances could have had more severe consequences, particularly if the window’s integrity was compromised at a higher differential pressure.
Titan Airways and TCS World Travel have been requested to provide a comment.
The source of this information is from the website independent.co.uk.