BEIRUT: The nose of a Kuwait Airways plane was repaired after it was damaged and caved inward while landing at Beirut’s airport Sunday. The damage was caused when the aircraft hit an ice chunk in a cloud between Lebanon and Cyprus, the airline said.
Kuwait Airways Flight KU501 was struck at an altitude of around 8,000 feet while landing at Rafik Hariri International Airport.
A statement from Kuwait Airways Sunday said the plane landed “safely and normally” in Beirut after hitting a chunk of ice.
However, a source at the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation questioned the claim, arguing that the plane’s windows would have been affected if that were the case, because they are the most fragile part of the plane and the nose is the strongest. Since neither the windows nor the rest of the aircraft were damaged, the source speculated that the damage was caused either by lightning or a “big bird,” he told The Daily Star Sunday.
Reports shortly after the plane’s landing attributed the damage to either hail or lightning.
Later Sunday night, the Airbus A320 aircraft departed Beirut around 10:30 p.m. after it was repaired by Middle East Airlines’ aircraft maintenance, according to another statement from Kuwait Airways.
The directorate-general source said Monday that an examination of the plane showed no damage to its weather radar, located inside the nose. He said that since the weather radar was functioning, the pilot could have avoided the ice cloud.
But the source added that the cause of the damage couldn’t be verified until information from the flight data recorder was examined.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 23, 2019, on page 2.