A charter flight flying from London to Orlando was forced to land after the crew realized it reached 14,000 feet with two window panes missing.
The Titan Airways plane, which was previously used by King Charles and UK prime minister Rishi Sunak, took off from London’s Stansted Airport on October 4 before the crew realized the windows had been damaged during a film shoot the previous day.
The Airbus A321 was carrying 11 crew members – three pilots, an engineer, loadmaster, and six cabin crew – and nine passengers who are also employed by the airline as well as the US-based luxury tour company TCS World Travel,
Shortly after takeoff the passengers noticed the cabin was colder and noisier than usual, per a report from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.
The plane continued to climb and reached 10,000 feet, meaning the seatbelt signs were off.
The Titan Airways plane took off from London’s Stansted Airport on October 4 before the crew realized the windows had been damaged during a film shoot the previous day
Shortly after takeoff the passengers noticed the cabin was colder and noisier than usual
That was when the loadmaster headed towards the back of the plane and noticed it was ‘loud enough to damage your hearing.’
He then discovered a window seal on a window that was ‘flapping in the airflow.’
At the point – at 14,000 feet in the air – the crew decided to stop the aircraft’s climbing and reduce speed.
An engineer and pilot then took a look at the windows and agreed the the aircraft should return to Stansted.
The plane landed back in London 36 minutes after it took off.
Once the aircraft was parked, the crew inspected the windows and realized two of them had their assemblies, the inner and outer panels and rubber seal, missing.
All that remained in place was the plastic scratch pane.
A third window also had the inner pane and seal missing.
The windows were damaged by high-powered lights used during a film shoot to ‘give the illusion of a sunrise.’ The lights were reportedly shone on the right side of the plane for over five hours and on the left for four hours, per the AAIB.
The lights were designed to be placed no closer than 32 feet from any object but were located between 20 and 30 feet from the windows.
The agency said: ‘Whereas in this case the damage became apparent at around FL100 and the flight was concluded uneventfully, a different level of damage by the same means might have resulted in more serious consequences.’