Passengers preparing to board Air Berlin flight AB6842 from Düsseldorf to Stuttgart noticed a hole in the fuselage of the Air Mistral ATR 72 operating the service. According to the Düsseldorf Express, the passengers reported the damage to their crew after boarding, to which they were assured that “everything was in order.”
In a freedom of information request, an Air Berlin spokesperson said that the captain had abandoned a walk around check in favour of completing cockpit preparations for departure. The passengers disembarked their aircraft and boarded another Air Mistral ATR 72, which flew to Stuttgart with a delay of 2 and a half hours.
The fact that the damage was discovered just before the start of boarding is rather unusual. In addition to walk around checks by the crew, ramp agent would also have inspected the aircraft. The Air Berlin spokesperson also said that the chances of the damage going unnoticed was very unlikely.
Air Berlin had chartered Air Mistral to fly the service due to lack of aircraft. The incident was immediately report to the Air Mistral who quickly organised the replacement ATR. Air Mistral complies with all the appropriate safety guidelines and has been approved by the German air authority, Luftfahrt-Bundesamt.
Air Mistral is now investigating the incident. Air Berlin regrets “the inconveniences” for the passengers.