Investigation Reveals Missing Windows on London-Orlando Flight

Thankfully, the plane wasn't in the air for too long

Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) sign
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) handled the investigation.
Getty Images

When you travel by plane, there are a few things you probably take for granted — including a seat, a trained pilot and a sealed cabin. Unfortunately for the passengers on a recent Orlando-bound flight out of London, they only got two out of three of these.

A report recently released by the U.K.’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch has more details on precisely what happened — and, thankfully, the relatively quick response when the in-flight staff determined that all was not well. On October 4, an Airbus 321 left London Stansted Airport en route to Orlando. The passengers — employees of a tour company — began noticing that something was wrong shortly after takeoff due to loud sounds in the cabin.

It was then, as per the AAIB’s report, that the loadmaster on board got an inkling of what the nature of the problem was. The agency’s report noted that they detected that “the window seal was flapping in the airflow and the windowpane appeared to have slipped down.” Something, it’s fair to say, no airline passenger ever wants to see.

The plane returned to Stansted and landed 36 minutes after it had taken off. As the AAIB’s report stated, the issue was worse than one errant window: “two cabin windowpanes were missing and a third was dislodged.”

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As NPR’s report on the incident points out, the airplane cabin never lost pressure during the process of takeoff or landing, which saw the plane reach an altitude of 13,000 feet. Regardless, it sounds like an unsettling situation for all involved — one which was, at least, rectified quickly.


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