Rough Landing Seriously Damages Delta 757

Filed Under: Delta

Update: Delta’s damaged 757 is back in service.


Delta operates a seasonal flight from New York JFK to Ponta Delgada in the Azores with a Boeing 757-200.

Usually a rough landing isn’t big news, but that’s different for last night’s flight from New York to the Azores. Delta 414 from New York to Ponta Delgada landed this morning at around 8:30AM, and the landing was so rough that it caused structural damage to the plane.

As a result, the flight from Ponta Delgada to New York was canceled.

Delta has scheduled two flights tomorrow from Ponta Delgada to New York, presumably to get stranded passengers home. Each passenger will also be entitled to 600EUR cash compensation under EU261.

While the plane’s gear appears to be intact, the number of rips throughout the fuselage and even wings is shocking.

As of now details are still limited, including what the weather was like, and if that was a factor in this situation.

I can’t even imagine how rough the landing must have been to cause this, though. Many may look at the above pictures and think it’s not a huge deal, but often these kinds of fuselage tears can make the plane a write off. We don’t know if that will be the case here, but the number of dents all over the place sure paints a picture of what must have been a really rough landing.

I’ll be very curious to see what ends up happening with this plane — will they be able to fix it, or will the plane permanently have its wings clipped?

Was anyone on this flight, or have more info about what happened?

  1. Are there any passenger reports/interviews/social media posts. Curious how such a landing must have felt like for those inside. Ouch

  2. Flying this flight tomorrow night. Winds in the Azores can be fierce. I assume it was a sudden gust. This 752 is probably a write-off, sadly…

  3. Must have been a rough landing, indeed, as if someone tried to rip a soda can in two. As Lucky mentioned, damage this extensive on an older aircraft (757-200) may well mean it’s cheaper to write off than repair.

    Glad everyone made it off the plane safely. The old pilot’s adage, any landing you can walk away from is a good one, applies here.

  4. Certain it was a severe down draft or wind shear. Flights to St. Helena Island have to have enough fuel to fly to Namibia due to weather conditions not allowing for safe landings. Probably similar situation here given it’s in the middle of the Atlantic.

  5. At least everyone was safe.
    It kinda sucks to be the flight crew who totaled a 757. But probably not as bad as the pilots that lost the B-2. Now that is 1.4 billion dollar write off.

  6. Rough landings happen all the time in Kigali Rwanda. I’ve often wondered why this happened. Can anyone tell me

  7. Delta’s 757s are about 22 years old…. So it won’t be that huge of a write off. Bit yeah, this baby is probably going into retirement…
    And what better place to do so than the Azores…

  8. I was on the flight – have flown 1000+ flights in my life to date and this was by far the hardest landing I’ve ever experienced. Big cross winds hit right as we were touching down.
    Pilots and crew did a great job despite the circumstances.

  9. Winds in the Azores can be crazy. Actually the worse landing of my life was in Pico, one of the islands. The only time I was scared inside a plane.

  10. @Omar S.

    And what better place to do so than the Azores…
    I almost choked. LOL.

    Interesting point.
    How do you retire or scrap a broken airframe on a tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic?

  11. @Eskimo

    São Miguel is not that tiny. It’s not like if it is a lost place in the middle of the Atlantic. The island has over 100 thousand inhabitants and there’s actually a US Air Base on the nearby Terceira Island.

  12. There is unfortunately plenty of history of mishandled hard landings on the 757 and 767, or inappropriate elevator response pushing the nose gear down hard after a normal main gear landing. Boeing produced a video on the subject which can be found on YouTube, several years ago, after several industry accidents and incidents to 757’s and 767’s.

  13. I wonder if a newer plane would have done better. While people claim Delta’s ancient fleet is no safety issue, I worry about the age of their airframes exactly because of this kind of event.

  14. I wonder if the plane can still do a ferry flight at low altitudes? Maybe make its way to Florida or Greensboro, NC to be scrapped?

  15. This was our flight home that is being rescheduled for tomorrow. When we left our hotel in PDL for the airport, it was sprinkling and overcast. I don’t see how it was the weather. I’m wondering if it’s the pilots first time landing in the Azores. Our flight here with Delta was wonderful. Praying for a safe flight home tomorrow.

  16. Had my harshest landing on a TAP LIS-TER flight last winter. Sometimes we take the pilots skills for granted, but I will never forget that ride in.

  17. We need passenger accounts.
    I had a hard landing once on an old ex us airways CR7 from Dfw to Elp. We came in way too fast. I heard a loud thump and then had sharp back pain.

  18. I predict it will be scrapped. Second prediction is that they fly it back to the states or Europe to do the scrapping. The cost of a salvage operation at its current location would probably be enormous!

  19. “Flights to St. Helena Island have to have enough fuel to fly to Namibia due to weather conditions not allowing for safe landings. Probably similar situation here given it’s in the middle of the Atlantic.”

    Exactly what I thought — and when is this gonna happen at that ill-fated St. Helena airport

  20. I was supposed to be on the return flight, now canceled. There was some rain but not bad. Two passengers on the arriving flight said plane bounced a couple times upon touch down but it didn’t seem like a major problem from the inside. Although the flight attendants were apparently spooked by it.

  21. Ooops apropos St. Helena seems its £285 million airport was back in the news recently:

    “In 2016 DfID was criticised for ploughing £285million into a project to build a new runway on the island of St Helena only for commercial flights to be suspended due to problems with wind shear.

    “A committee of MPs said: ‘It is staggering that the Department did not foresee and address the impact of difficult wind conditions on landing commercial aircraft safely.'”

    more background here:

  22. Thanks, John for your report. It’s interesting to hear from someone who was actually on the flight as opposed to conjecture.

  23. I remember similar happening to a 767 which went into service for First Choice Airways & believe is still flying for Tui.

  24. Amazing to note the dented fuselage at the nose gear that must have been a hellacious Landing….

    As for the Azores…. that’s going to happen…
    I’ve traveled PIX TER and PDL…
    All the airports in the islands are difficult including Funchal.

  25. I would not want to fly that plane over water (or land either) . By the look of the sheet metal I would expect broken bones underneath . There are cargo planes with the capacity to fly the plane off the island in several trips if necessary .

  26. What has Ponta Delgada (PJL) to do with St.Helena (HLE)? There is a distance from about 6300km between these two airports.

  27. @Erno-BE — “This would never happened at Quatar Airlines”

    … can you explain just how mythical “Quatar” Airlines can escape a last-second microburst down flow that slams the airliner onto the runway, causing it to bounce a couple of times upon touchdown?

  28. Friend who lives in PDL and witnessed the landing reported no windy conditions but that the aircraft appeared to be having some issues on the approach for landing. Perhaps there is a lot more to the story…

  29. Passengers for the return flight commenting on the weather on their way to the airport have no idea what the wind was like on the airfield.

    As for scrapping, if, as is highly likely, this is a write off, there is no reason why it should not be scrapped in the Azores. Removing engines and other useful parts is as easily done there as anywhere, the parts can easily be shipped to wherever and there are scrap metal merchants locally who can tear the aircraft apart once the reusable items are removed and the fluids are drained,

  30. Good grief. Appalled that you mention EU261 compensation before expressing any concern for the welfare of the passengers and crew who were on board during the landing.

    IMHO DL have a very strong case that EU261 does not apply to departing passengers from the Azores. The damage to the plane is in my view clearly an extraordinary circumstance caused ultimately by the weather and not anything within DLs control.

  31. A good portion of 757’s at DAL and elsewhere are leased through holding companies as well as likely insured..the comments about gusty winds in the Azores is right on.

  32. @ BrightonReader

    Except that most of the commenters have written how normal it is for flying conditions to be difficult at this airport.

    Normal =/= extraordinary.

    I’d expect 261 to apply. Can anyone there confirm?

  33. As a 767 captain I can unequivocally tell you it is NOT ok to destroy the aircraft in a landing, no matter the conditions!

  34. As a U.S. Air Force pilot, l have flown numerous transport flights in and out of Lajes A.F.B. in the Azores Islands. Gusty crosswinds were often encountered that could really be “sporty”, with attention-getting wing rock and occasional go-arounds for another try. Not surprised to read about this incident.

  35. The fuselage gave away where it is supposed to during a severe impact. The damage, although visually awesome, isn’t unreasonable nor surprising for the 757. Still wouldn’t want to experience such an event.

  36. Many years ago I was on a flight from Sydney that had a very hard landing in Brisbane. From memory, this prompted the relevant cabin staff member to announce:

    “Ladies & gentlemen we have have just hit Brisbane. For your safety, please remain seated while the pilots taxi what’s left of the aircraft to the terminal building. Be very careful opening the overhead lockers because, after a landing like that, your luggage will have certainly shifted…etc”

    There was great merriment throughout the plane except, I’m guessing, in the cockpit & I wondered whether the staff member who made the announcement would retain his employment. He seemed pretty cheerful when saying farewell to departing passengers.

  37. Whoa. I was on this flight. It was a bouncy approach and a hard landing, but I’ve experienced way rougher landings and didn’t think too much of it at the time. Immediately after the wheels hit the ground there was a second loud noise that, at the time, made me think something else on the plane also hit the ground. I have no idea if that’s true, just what it sounded like. Slowing down on the runway and driving to the terminal was smooth. None of the passengers seemed to be talking about the landing after either. So kudos to the pilots and the crew for keeping their cool and getting us in safely.

  38. @The Nice Paul,
    I would not expect EU261 to apply. But there is probably no precedent to go by. It will depend on what Delta does when/if people start claiming. And what the courts will say if Delta rejects the claims.

    Given that a large proportion of the passengers are probably US based, and thus less well aware of the rules than Europeans would be, I guess there would be less claims to begin with.

  39. @ Jesper

    Interesting. My take would be that Delta broke their own plane on a previous flight, but couldn’t make alternative arrangements in time to fly out people on the return.

    The cancelled return flight was because Delta did not choose to have a spare aircraft at their outstation (which makes perfect economic sense, of course). So, having had the advantage of all those cash savings over the years when they didn’t need the spare plane, now it’s pay-back time with a bit of EU261.

    Delta will be massively quids-in even after paying out the compensation.

    But let’s see what happens. I’m intrigued.

  40. The nice Paul

    When I shared the Portuguese newspaper report, a family member who is more of an aviation geek than I . Remarked how weather and wind conditions were calm at final approach. He lives under the flight path and said the aircraft was having trouble and erratic! Puzzled as conditions were not adverse for landing… All this info. as response to my guessing on the hard landing!
    In my 30 year career as an International Flight Attendant I had hard landings at all altitudes and weather, never buckling in that manner. I say! again!!! unless a microburst was recorded at the last minute on landing this bird had a previous structural flaw. Debriefing the Crew might provide more information on the intensity of impact and aircraft attitude before landing. This is much more than a
    ” Hard Landing” this was an accident.

  41. Aircraft flying constantly over/around seawater suffer accelerated corrosion issues at almost all structural joints…inspection requirements are increased because of this known issue…Be interesting to see what is uncovered when you pull the panels?

  42. @The nice paul

    There is nothing in EU261 that mentions ‘normal weather’ for an airport such that compensation would be payable (i.e. an exception to the exception).

    And having a spare plane (or even a spare crew) at an out station is not seen as being reasonable – except at a home base. But a home base for DL would be a US airport and as you know DL flights to the EU aren’t covered by EU261.

  43. One might not be an expert.
    Experience makes you cognizant…

    ( how many times did the cockpit listen to us in the Cabin when
    ” we knew” and nothing else registered). I just hope you are just making an opinion from your easy chair and not someone who is actually in charge of anything…

  44. @ ChrisC

    You’re wrong: we’re talking about the return flight, out of the EU — which *is* covered by EU261 for every carrier.

  45. Not economically repairable. Parts bird only. I’ve done a ton of PT.91 ferry flights in DC-8s and 747s. I WOULD NOT ferry this bird. Too many unknown issues. Sad!!!

  46. I’m more amused by how people standing on the ground are excellent judges of what the wind is doing 2,000 ft in the air on approach. 🙂

  47. And THIS, folks, is why we shouldn’t let little kids sit on the pilot’s lap during landings — shame on you, Delta!

  48. I was a passenger on the outgoing flight. Delta was nothing but responsive to the passengers when canceling the outgoing flight. They paid for meals, transportation and hotel rooms for everyone and sent emails today stating they were refunding 100% the ticket price. For what it’s worth, I was at the airport when the plane landed and saw it taxi by for deplaning. Nothing seemed odd about the landing from how it was handled at the terminal.

  49. I was on this flight and am a frequent flier, but first time to the Azores. It was overcast. The approach is over the coast above cliffs. All seemed fine, though there was some not uncommon wing wagging. But, the initial impact was very hard and not on all gear, mostly on the left, not nose or right. We bounced and came down hard again on the left, possibly some on the nose gear, and bounced up and tilted to the left. I was in first cabin and this was pretty pronounced. At this point, I was unsure of a landing or accident. But, on the next bounce, we evened out, then came up slightly, then down and held. I’ve had hard landings, but never had a landing like that. I was surprised the other passengers didn’t talk about it, because it’s true we did not. Perhaps, people didn’t want to admit they were scared or other parts of the plane didn’t get the same impact. I don’t pretend to know about the effect of different winds or piloting, etc., but it went bad, and almost real bad.

  50. I was on a delta 767 flight into New Orleans as a AA mechanic in uniform going to fix a AA super 80. The co pilot slammed the nose down so hard I looked to see if the strut was sticking through the cockpit floor. The captain told me it was the first officers first live landing EVER. Simulator check out.
    This wasn’t weather, this was a crappy pilot.

  51. I was on this flight. It seemed like a crosswind issue, lots of crabbing into the approach, and the wings never seemed level. We bounced so hard everything flew around the cabin. Id be curious if the PA announcements were recorded cause they were kinda slurry. Just thankful to be on the ground and on my honeymoon.

  52. I have a friend who was within 5 feet, he said, of landing in Terceira one time when the plane powered back up and they flew two more hours on to Lisbon. So there is a lot of fuel in those planes upon landing of the Azores, making them heavy, in order to have an opportunity for a safe landing elsewhere. I don’t not know why they didn’t land on a different island, perhaps weather. He did not know and SATA did not say. I’m glad this plane landed safely for the passengers. Am I the only one who stretches out my spine during landing? Small hope of not compressing it during a hard landing 🙂

  53. This happened last year to an Atlas 767 (N641GT) in Portsmouth, NH. They fixed it and she’s still flying.

  54. They just landed an Antonov with supplies from Atlanta to fix the 757, albeit with some altitude restrictions so it can return to the US for extensive repairs.

  55. ERNO-BE:
    How stupid you must be to think that this would never happen at Qatar AW. It can happen to any plane, regardless of the airline. Think. Think before you write.

  56. We were in Sao Miguel right after it happened and learned they “patches” the Aircraft up and flew it back to the mainland to have Delta A&P Mechanics to finish the repairs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *