One third of South Africa's national airline fleet has been damaged in a freak hailstorm, with damage so bad that the planes have been withdrawn from services.
GV INTERIOR South africa Boeing 707 in hangar
CU Holes and dents in wing of aircraft PULL OUT PAN ALONG wing damage caused by hail (2 shots)
SV Smashed skylights in hanger roof
CU Hail damage in wing of aircraft
GV PAN EXTERIOR Other Jumbo jets on tarmac
CU Hail damage to SA Airways Jumbo
SV PAN Tailplane of British Airways 747 TO engineer examining flaps on wing
SV Engineers repairing hail damage to wings and flaps of BA 747 (3 shots)
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Background: One third of South Africa's national airline fleet has been damaged in a freak hailstorm, with damage so bad that the planes have been withdrawn from services. In six hours, more than two and a half inches of rain was measured at Johannesburg's Jan Smuts airport.
SYNOPSIS: The managing director of South African Airways, Kobus Loubser, says the damage to 12 of his Company's 36 planes will completely disrupt schedules. He says that neither domestic or international flights will be running according to schedule fr at least another week.
Even the aircraft inside hangars weren't safe from the hailstones. They smashed through skylights--peppering the wings of the planes inside. The storm on Wednesday (16 January) was one of the worst to hit South Africa in years. Normally, the country has what is described as a warm and temperate climate, with average temperatures of around 17 degrees Centigrade.
But, according to eye witnesses, there was nothing temperate about this freak storm. The hailstones were bigger than golf balls and they shattered hundreds of car windscreens.
South African Airways staff have been working round the clock to ensure minimum disruption to their passengers. Other airlines have been called in to share the passenger load.
Meanwhile, engineers in Johannesburg get down to the task of repairing hail damage to wings and flaps. The types of aircraft damaged include Boeing 727, 737 and the 747 Jumbo Jets. The only type of plane to escape was the wide-bodies Aribus--normally used on the Johannesburg-Cape Town route. South African Airways has also asked the Boeing Company in the United States to fly out experts to help repair the battered planes.