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On May 21st, before an Air Berlin flight from Düsseldorf to Stuttgart (~340 km, 210 mi), a hole in the fuselage of the plane was discovered by passengers. It is claimed, that the crew continued flight preparations, dismissing warnings and only abandoned the take-off after the pilot was pressured by passengers to take another look. He is said to have deemed the plane suitable for flying and only abandoned the idea when pressured by passengers to check the plane again.

Air Berlin claims, that the pilot interrupted his preflight walk-around check of the plane, to return to the cockpit for some tasks. He later continued it and spotted the hole, leading to the cancellation of the flight. Meaning: Everything would have been fine without any passenger warnings anyways.

English sources:
https://theworldofaviationblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/23/passengers-discover-hole-in-the-side-of-air-mistral-atr-72/
http://true-news.info/passengers-air-berlin-found-a-hole-in-the-fuselage-of-the-aircraft/ (has to be true obviously)
German Sources:
https://www.merkur.de/welt/passagiere-entdecken-vor-air-berlin-flug-loch-im-flugzeug-zr-8347888.html
Aviation Safety Report:
https://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/wiki.php?id=195623

For me this whole story seems fishy: I find it unlikely that the pilot and ground crew would have missed this damage. I also find it very unlikely, that the pilot would ignore a serious threat to the safety of the flight. It's his life on the line as well.

So now I have a few questions about it:

  • Does the airline's explanation make sense? Does a pilot start his outside checks but sometimes interrupt them to take care of business in the cockpit and then continue later?
  • Would the hole have been a problem in the first place? Was it maybe, from a technical standpoint, really not a problem and the crew later only bowed to the (uninformed) pressure of the passengers? Flight attendants apparently told the passengers to "get in and trust us".
  • Is such a hole fixable by that hardcore-airplane duct tape, and are such fixes done shortly before take-off?
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closed as primarily opinion-based by mins, SMS von der Tann, Ralph J, GdD, Simon May 26 '17 at 19:40

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ AvH does not have anything, while ASN(aviation-safety.net/wikibase/wiki.php?id=195623) links to a focus.de article, and it seems to be a user-added entry. $\endgroup$ – Federico May 26 '17 at 11:48
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you Federico, yes the story was covered by most german news-outlets. $\endgroup$ – Jens May 26 '17 at 11:50
  • $\begingroup$ Np, was only to check the sources that most likely would have independent data. Please consider making the title less loaded (and please also rephrase the "Reality Check about “Hole in Fuselage”-Air-Berlin story" part to have only a question in the title) $\endgroup$ – Federico May 26 '17 at 11:52
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, I have also added your link to the question. $\endgroup$ – Jens May 26 '17 at 11:57
  • $\begingroup$ I just wanted to connect it to the actual story behind it. I am actually interested in how pre-flight routines can explain the corner-stones of the story, because I don't feel that general-purpose news storys can do that (it's not big enough for them to involve actual pilots etc.). Feel free to adjust the title how you deem more appropriate. $\endgroup$ – Jens May 26 '17 at 12:31

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