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Chinese passenger jet hits mysterious object at 26,000ft

A passenger jet was forced to make an emergency landing after a mysterious mid-air collision with a 'foreign object' at 26,000ft severely dented its nose cone. ( More...

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Alan Field 5
Hi Everyone
I've seen exactly the same damage to the nose dome of a British Caledonian 747 a number of years ago when I was an engineer in the hangar at LGW.
As far as I remember(and it was a good few years ago!), the theory was that it had been caused by a sudden de-compression in the nose dome itself due to the normal vent holes being taped over during painting. There was no signs whatsoever of any impact. I do believe this theory was backed up with evidence.
I'm sure our friends at Boeing would be able to find it in their archives circa early to mid 80's!
David Stark 2
There was a recent failure in a Boeing 787 caused by somebody painting over the vent holes in that troublesome battery box. Your theory has some current plausibility.
Orville1000 2
The standard atmosphere psi of 14.7lb versus that at cruise level ambient, 3.4psi or some such, would be substantially insufficient to account for radome material deformation in flight.
James Carlin 1
If the vent holes were covered, presumably it would have been at ground level. The pressure at 26,000 feet would have been lower - unless the holes were covered on top of Mount Everest or K2. So the dome would have exploded, not imploded??
David Stark 1
You are assuming the failure would occur on the first ascent after the holes were covered.
Alan Field 1
I think the theory was that eventually the pressure inside the dome overcame the adhesive of the tape and the sudden de-compression caused the failure. We used good strong masking tape in those days!
tim mitchell 1
......not like the cheap crap they sell today....I tell you what.
Sean O'Day 5
Has anyone talked to superman lately?
Agustin Bueso 1
Hahahahahaha, you made my day.
Michael Laue Ambassador 4
could have been the german "Euro Hawk" ;)
Damn drones...
steve rogers 3
watch out for those lousy alien drivers !!!
I'll bet it was that damn sasquatch
acmi 6
high altitude dim sum, or perhaps an egg roll launched from N Korea
joel wiley 4
Definitely a weather balloon, according to Project Bluebook. The Bundeswehr drones don't go that high.
sparkie624 2
I like your thinking. A Very plausible explanation, and better than most that I have seen.
Neil49 1
That's what I was thinking...or at least some other very low-mass object. Perhaps one of those ubiquitous high-flying plastic grocery bags?
WeatherWise 4
Peking duck?
Josh Preston 5
Yup, had to be aliens. No other rational explanation...
ChrisMD123 13
I'm pretty certain that this was a UFO. Why ? Because:
1. They don't know what it was (unidentified);
2. At 26,000 feet, it was probably flying;
3. And unless physics has been failing lately, it's almost certainly an object.
sparkie624 2
You are exactly right and accurate on this one. I do not think it was a bird because of no blood. However, instead of flying it could have been falling, but still falls under the "F" :)
Brian Bishop 2
Well as Woody told Buzz, "That's not flying! It's Falling....with STYLE"
sparkie624 1
Very accurately stated.
They must be reeeeeally tiny.
Peter Steitz 2
Having hit "objects" several times in my flying career, every one was a bird and there was blood and guts and feathers all over the plane. After landing, on one occasion, feathers were found in the tail and one mechanic even identified the feathers as from a hawk. In this discussion, not finding any remnants of a bird does make me wonder. Look, there are things going on in Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, California that we will never know. A small drone at FL 260? Sure.
Really resembles most of the cars around here after deer strikes. They don't often leave a blood trail. I vote for one of Santa's reindeer on a practice mission.
tim mitchell 1
I wonder what the TBR (time between replacement) are on those deer
dmanuel 2
I wonder if the Radome was replaced with a knock-off that failed due to aerodynamic forces.
tim mitchell 1
either that or the bondo finally fell off
tim mitchell 1
I saw the black marks but that could be from the paint chipping away or it hitting something on the ground and then being "repaired" does look like it sucked in due to a pressure change...It didn't bust so what you say could have happened.
sparkie624 1
I kind of disagree with you here. the black marks are from the paint chipping away, however, being sucked in... they were level at 26K so no pressure changes. The Radome is composite and not metal, so if it was pressure it would have been a different type of damage. There is no blood, so it was not a bird. There is a history of Bird Strikes as high as 29,000 (a Goose went through the cockpit window of a 727, but looking at the images does not appear to be a bird.
tim mitchell 1
it's a blood...damaged radome.....they hit something or vise versa....there are geese and condors that fly that high but they didn't see anything and no one knows what happened.
Mark Lansdell 1
Don't forget where the report originated.
Well, there goes one of Google's "Project Loon" balloons...
Ron Lorenz 1
I'm guessing it was a chunk of Chinese Smog!
lynx318 1
What if plane was at higher altitude, vent holes froze over, descended to 26000 then pressure implosion?
Mark Lansdell 1
This article's publication probably should have been delayed until at least some preliminary tests were taken and some real possibilities put forward. To limit answers to a UFO strike is limiting and ridiculous.
David Stark 2
Really? You expect the news media to hold back on a story until they have more facts? What decade are you living in?
Mark Lansdell 2
Older than you I recon. Hell, they can't spell, they can't punctuate, they can't put facts together and they can't hold my interest. They might as well wait until there are some facts to write about
Toby Sharp 1
Jap Goose on Ox
tim mitchell 2
look up the bear-headed goose
tim mitchell 1
bar-headed goose....sorry for the mis-spell
joel wiley 1
Plausible from the elevation standpoint. Lack of blood is a sticking point. Could the A/C pass thru WX to wash it off? We have limited info from China. Could we expect an FAA/NTSB type report from the Chinese as some point?
That definitely doesn't look like damage from a hit, more like a structure failure.
sparkie624 2
I disagree... Radomes are composite. If it had been structural, it would have split or cracked in the center. Looks like they ran into a canon ball or something similar.
Dele Obileye 1
Pls wait before jumping to conclusions about UFO. Should we not think of obvious things like fragments of meteorites. Recents events like the one over Russia serve as reminders!
tim mitchell 1
if it were a meteorite something tells me there would have been a hole instead of a dent.
Geoffrey Beth 1
blue ice from another jet above? OR Meteoroid been ruled out? I'd check the freezing line first.
sparkie624 5
Oh crap... Not Blue Ice... But that makes more since than anything else.
logic28 1
The shape of the dome is almost as strong as an egg shell so… let’s think about it before blaming decompression.
Furthermore if decompression really did have a part in this failure, it would have to be so instantaneous that no way small vent holes would have allowed to happen.
It must be an object of some sort…perhaps… of all those lose bits left hanging out there from damaged satellites……
Mark Lansdell 1
I'm convinced rapid decompression would have left a convex stress rather than a concave one. It's all conjecture from here and will be up to the airline or the Chinese version of the NTSB to investigate. As a corporat6ion I would replace the dome cover and get the plane back in the air carrying pax. It was not pilot error from the information provided so from a corporate standpoint there is no hurry to find out what it was.
tim mitchell 1
No real evidence of what this was....nobody go hurt that we know of....Has anyone else seen these new internet balloons that Google is experimenting with on the news....They are essentially deployed, ride the jet stream and are remotely controlled in the sense that they can change altitude by having the ability to activate burners like that of a hot air balloon.....Maybe the bottom of on of these balloons got blasted.
John Clark 1
There is no blood in the impact area. No blood, no bird. Something uniform and smooth hit it given the uniformity of the dent and the lack of punctures on the radome. Maybe a rubber/plastic covering, o-ring or some kind of sealing material made the black marks. It should be very easy to run a chemical analysis on the debris left in the impact area.
Orville1000 1
This is a bird strike on the radome of a B737 Fairly uniform compression, no scuffing.

Birds don't explode on impact. They tend to punch through aluminum if direct hit or deflect in off-angle. Can sometimes leave scuff marks (as in this case), sometimes not. Birds ingested into engines leaves snarge because are blendered.

Have to figure,with millions of radome incident-free airliner flights on the books, that Boeing radome designers know what they're doing. They're built in accordance with the buckling equation.

sparkie624 1
I have worked A LOT of Bird Strikes... There is always some kind of blood or guts left behind. How did this one not have any evidence. That punch on the 737 did not leave any evidence, so how can they be sure that is what it was?
Orville1000 1
The 737 hit a yellow-billed kite after V1 on t/o from Durban, RSA. The Captain and Comair confirmed the event.

Soft tissue birds *deflected* off radomes (hollow, non-rigid object) do not leave behind blood evidence. Scuffing is not uncommon, but no blood, unless the bird was already bleeding outward, therefore presented the material. For one, the impact event transpires faster than the bird can egress blood. Two, under impact physics, with the bird's skin and blood, veins, arteries, each immediate adjacent layers meeting the impact surface at basically in unison, the skin and veins would have to be ripped apart for blood to escape and occurring faster than kinetic energy can deflect the bird and all its matter off to whichever so-called new path.

I don't know which or how many bird strikes you've been involved with, but all collisions, whether elastic or inelastic all conform to the laws of physics. All of which include the transfer of energies between dynamic matter.
joel wiley 1
Might there be a speed component to the force the impact? Airspeed after V1 and Cruise at FL 260 would seem to me to be quite different. Just wondering.
Orville1000 1
Of course, F=MA. I don't know what the math is for a deflecting inelastic collision between a B737 with a mass upwards to 50,000kg against a 1kg bird (the Comair incident) or B757 against whatever that involved. No numbers have been published. And most of all it's China. The 26,000' altitude claim could be false.

Bird strikes are most common at t/o, short final and approach. But have happened as high as ~37.000'. Incredible microscopic needle in a haystack misfortune.
Alan Field 1
The radome is not 'normally' pressurized. That was my point. Leaving tape over vent holes forces it to be pressurized. Hey, this is just a theory in the absence of any evidence to the contrary. What I do know is, I've seen it before.
sparkie624 1
Something does not feel right about that... With the drains taped over that would make more pressure inside the radome. As the plane climbs there would be more air trapped inside being more prone to blow out, not in. Further more, if it had sucked in, I would have expected more fragments.
Peter Steitz 1
The radome is not pressurized. The bulkhead just in front of the flight deck AKA cockpit, is the last compartment to hold pressure. There's a reason for this. There is nothing up there that needs pressurization. The components and radar antenna don't need pressurized air. There are fans and air evacuation ports that allow hot air to be controlled. The nose is expendable. On the ground, the fans run like crazy. In the air, enough cool air is available. This China Air jet hit something---not a bird.
alien asleep at the wheel!
Mark Lansdell 1
Is that a Willie Nelson song?
jack mitchell 1
Think about blue Ice from an A/C above?.
Mark Lansdell 1
No thank you. You think about it.
Weather balloon?!?
...or drone.
Correct me if I am wrong but I think that if it was a large object, what did it do when it passed the right side of the airplane? The passengers would of seen it or it would of hit the wing or the engine of the aircraft.
Mark Lansdell 1
There's not enough information to say you're right or wrong. Most of the comments here are nonsensical and about nothing. One of them calls it a UFO strike and goes on to explain the literal meaning of UFO. Hell, look at the comment that follows this one.
sparkie624 1
At that speed... Chances are they would have never seen anything.
ian hatch 1
Many (MANY) years ago there was a report of a goose hitting a B29, I think it was, over the atlantic at about 20 kfeet - possible?
Mark Lansdell 1
I have dropped adjacent to gaggles of Canada Geese on approaches in New England at 15-18K. I recently read of migrating birds like storks overflying the Himalayas at 20K+. I didn't think a metabolism could lean out that far, but there it is.
joel wiley 1
As my Zool prof used to say "the problem is that the animals don't read the book and don't know they're not supposed to do that.?
Mark Lansdell 1
Not the point but.

Hmmm. Some advantages to illiteracy.
David Stark 1
"Bees can't fly? What are we doing, bowling?"

TV commercial, I think for USAF recruitment.
"The book says that's impossible."

"That's what I love about the 707. She can do everything but read."
Faster Gun 1
It was 'swamp gas'. Nothing to see here, folks. Now move along....
toolguy105 1
I thought this was first reported as a birdstrike upon departure. Are THEY KNO reporting it as a UFO incident AT ALTITUDE?
Mark Lansdell 1
I read the article and don't see anywhere a report of a bird strike.
PhotoFinish 1
"If you think this look bad, you should see the other guy."

All joking aside, if there was a high altitude strike of another object, eg. weather balloon, spy satellite, etc., I wonder what it looks like after such a catastrophic direct hit. Get's one thinking how to go about searching for and finding said struck object after apparently falling to the ground.
sparkie624 1
No Christmas next year I guess....
joel wiley 1
Off thread.
Off wall.
Off chair ROFL.
Good one Jim
No mystery object, just another US spying drone.
Roger Curtiss 1
I saw a thread about this incident on another site and someone was espousing the theory that over time the paint on the radome gets chipped and thinned due to exposure to the elements causing moisture to leak into the radome and eventually the radome collapses in on itself... It did not make much sense to me either!
UFO's are excluded from ATC control - since they are not registered with any official government agency. Therefore it is likely the UFO pilot will be investigated upon return to his/its home planet- and potentially will be fired.
My bet is that an aircraft at a much higher altitude ( military or commercial ) lost some ice deposits and simple bad luck caused impact. It can never be proven of course given the lack of other sinister evidence such as described by other contributors. North Korea does not have the intellectual capacity to mount such an attack to an aircraft in flight with such accuracy!!
holy crap!
Ric Wernicke 0
"Look! Up in the sky!" "It's a bird!" "It's a plane!" "It's Superman!"... Yes, it's Superman ... strange visitor from another planet, who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men! Superman ... who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way!

-TV show opening
wdhearrell -1
Were the passengers charged extra for the dent? Like a rental car? The airlines seems to charge for everything else these days.
Tommy Scalici -2
(Duplicate Squawk Submitted)

Plane dented at 26,000ft

An Air China 757's nose was dented at 26,000 ft. Plane made a safe landing.
isardriver -2
(Duplicate Squawk Submitted)

plane dented at 26,000 ft

air china 757 made an emergency landing after hearing a loud bang at 26k. the nose cone was damaged;
Ralph Higgs 2
I'm surprised at all the conjecture with only a couple contributors suggesting a weather balloon. During a 34-year airline career I have spotted three or four weather balloons zipping by within a few feet of the cockpit (and these were just the ones I happened to see).

In no case were we advised by ATC, even though at cruise speed they could have certainly crashed through the cockpit windows.
PhotoFinish 1
"During a 34-year airline career I have spotted three or four weather balloons zipping by within a few feet of the cockpit (and these were just the ones I happened to see)."
- some people speak from personal experience, others not so much.

"I'm surprised at the conjecture." Really?? LOL

"only a couple suggesting a weather balloon." Most don't get a chance to sit on the flight deck, especially in motion at altitude. The number of those having been lucky enough to have seen multiple weather balloons zipping by, is even fewer.

1. Anytime you miss hitting something that you don't see until it is zipping past your aircraft IS lucky.

2. Seems pilots spend less time looking out their windows vs. looking at their gauges, screens, controls, iPads, etc. Old timers may be used to actually looking out the window and/or actually flying the plane (vs. Directing the computer to flying the plane.)

3. With all the planes and weather balloons in the sky, it is actually surprising that there aren't more weather balloon strikes. Is it the aerodynamic design of planes that helps to deflect these airborne objects and not have them crash through cockpit windows regularly?

How unlucky does one have to be, to be the controls when striking such an object dead-on with the nose cone of the plane? A few inches in any direction seems more likely to result in a deflection or complete miss. "Woah, did you see that? It zipped right by."
KingAirB200 -2
(Duplicate Squawk Submitted)

Plane Dented at 26,000 Feet

Photos have emerged showing a Chinese passenger plane with its nose dented, with some suggesting that a UFO caused it.

The Sun reported that the Air China plane, which was apparently damaged flying at around 26,000 feet above sea level, was forced to make an emergency landing after the denting. Officials have not elaborated on what caused the damage.


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