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S Korean jet: Without a radar, on a prayer

South Korean jet has a narrow escape after a hailstorm knocked out its radar and autopilot.

india Updated: Jun 10, 2006 15:19 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

A South Korean jet with 200 passengers on board sustained serious damage when it hit a hailstorm, knocking out its radar and autopilot and cracking the main cockpit window, the airline said on Saturday.

The Asiana Airlines Airbus 321 jet was some 80 kilometres south of Seoul en route from the southern resort island of Jeju late Friday when it hit the storm.

Hailstones took off the plane's nose cone and knocked out the autopilot system and radar, also leaving holes in engine covers and badly cracking the cockpit's windows.

With close cooperation from the control tower, the pilots managed to land the plane safely at Seoul's Gimpo airport, 15 minutes behind schedule.

Captain Lee Chang-Ho said he and his assistant pilot were forced to land the jet manually, looking through side-windows as their front view was completely blocked because of the cracks.

"The radar showed no clouds and I thought we had passed the clouds. But suddenly it hailed and rained," he said.

No injuries were reported in the incident.

The company said it would reward the two pilots with promotion and awards. "We've decided to honour and promote the pilots, who saved so many lives at a time of crisis," Asiana Airlines said in a statement.

First Published: Jun 10, 2006 15:19 IST