An Air China plane that landed at the Hong Kong International Airport on Thursday was found with the aircraft nose badly damaged, prompting speculation that it may have suffered mid-air collision with birds, Apple Daily reports.
According to the paper, ground staff attending to Flight CA103 that came in from Tianjin were shocked to find a big hole on the nose of the plane.
The Boeing 737 arrived late, touching down at 1:24 pm, instead of the scheduled time of noon.
Citing sources, the newspaper reported that ground staff spotted a hole measuring about 1m x 1m right underneath the cockpit.
As a large pool of blood was found near the area, the ground personnel speculated that birds may have crashed into the plane during flight.
Despite the damage to the nose, the aircraft landed safely and there were no reports of any injuries to the passengers.
However, what was surprising about the incident was that the captain did not file any report with the air traffic control before the plane landed, the paper said.
That suggests the possibility that the captain may not have been aware of the damage to the aircraft.
If the air traffic controllers had been alerted, authorities would have dispatched rescue vehicles to the runway for standby before the aircraft landed.
Apple Daily said that as of 8 pm Thursday, Air China was yet to respond to queries from the paper in relation to the suspected mid-air incident.
For the return journey, Flight CA104, the Chinese carrier is said to have used another aircraft following the damage to the regular plane. That flight took off at 10 pm, translating to a nine-hour delay.
Hong Kong’s Civil Aviation Department, meanwhile, admitted that it did not learn about the incident until afterwards.
Noting that the primary responsibility for probe into air accidents lies with the aviation authority of the country that the aircraft belong to, the department said it is ready to offer any assistance needed.
Apple Daily cited an aircraft expert as saying that he suspects the damaged area was the shield used to protect the on-plane radar system.
If the shied gets broken, it may not pose a serious risk since the more dangerous pieces of equipment, such as fuel pipes, are elsewhere, he said.
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