A Ukrainian pilot is being hailed as a hero after he landed an Airbus A320 damaged in a hailstorm, barely able to see the runway through the shattered windshield of the aircraft, according to reports.
Captain Alexander Akopov landed the AtlasGlobal jet, carrying 121 passengers, at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport on July 27 after its nose was severely damaged shortly after take-off, the Daily Mail reported.
Minutes after departure, the passenger aircraft encountered inclement weather and hail the size of a “chicken egg”.
The pilot was forced to turn the plane around and make an emergency landing at the Ataturk airport within 25 minutes of departure. He was allowed to land the aircraft despite a shutdown at the airport due to the bad weather, the Daily Mail said. He used the side windows of the plane for the landing, according to The Aviation Herald.
“I have been flying for 30 years. Well, did you see the plane landing? Was it OK? The passengers are alive. It is normal. This is our professional reliability,” Akopov was quoted as saying by the local media.
Oleg Lungul, an engineer at Ataturk Airport, shot a video of the landing in which an employee at the airport could be heard saying: “It won’t be able to land, it won’t land”.
Lungul also posted photos of the damaged Airbus on Facebook along with the video. More than 1.5 lakh people reacted to the post and almost 72,000 people shared it.
AtlasGlobal acknowledged the incident on its official Twitter handle after a post lauded the pilot’s effort.
Hi, we would like to thank you for your nice comments, in the name of our experienced captain pilots working at Atlasglobal.
– Atlasglobal (@Atlasglobal) July 28, 2017
Akopov will soon be awarded the ‘Ukrainian Order For Courage’ in Russia for his bravery, the reports said.