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.
http://true-news.info/passengers-air-berlin-found-a-hole-in-the-fuselage-of-the-aircraft/ (has to be true obviously)
Aviation Safety Report:
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?