- A Delta Air Lines aircraft was diverted to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport on Tuesday after experiencing an in-flight hail strike.
- After landing, the Airbus A319 jet's nose appeared to be smashed in as a result of the incident.
- The routine flight from West Palm Beach to New York's LaGuardia Airport was carrying 43 passengers and landed safely in New York.
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A routine Delta Air Lines flight from West Palm Beach to New York's LaGuardia Airport was unexpectedly diverted to John F. Kennedy International Airport on Tuesday after pilots reported mechanical issues due to an in-flight hail strike.
"Delta flight 1076 operating from West Palm Beach to New York-LaGuardia diverted to New York-JFK out of an abundance of caution following a mechanical issue," a Delta spokesperson told Business Insider in an email. "The flight landed safely and without incident."
Photos taken after the aircraft landed in New York with 43 passengers onboard show the nose of the aircraft was caved in, CBS News reported, as rough weather had been battering the area. Reports initially indicated that it was a bird strike but Delta confirmed the incident was the result of hail.
The strike, Delta confirmed, only affected flight navigation systems and not the aircraft's engines. Inside the aircraft's nose, also known as the radome, is a sensitive radar antenna that could impact the aircraft's ability to detect weather and alert pilots if they're approaching terrain, according to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines .
Air traffic controllers had just cleared the Delta jet to an altitude of 7,000 feet over central New Jersey as it approached LaGuardia Airport from the south, according to LiveATC recordings reviewed by Business Insider. The transmissions from the Delta jet were blocked but less than five minutes later, the controller had appeared to be responding to a distress call from the aircraft.
"No problem, Delta 1076, you can just continue on your present heading, for now, just let me know wherever you want to go," the air traffic controller said, indicating that the Delta aircraft was reporting an issue that required an immediate landing. "Kennedy currently landing ILS 22 left and right."
As the jet reached the New Jersey shoreline near Perth Amboy, FlightRadar24 data shows that the aircraft turned to a near-direct course to Kennedy Airport, flying between Coney Island and Rockaway Point before flying across Long Island to line-up with one of Kennedy's south-southwest-facing runways.
"Delta 1076, when able give me fuel remaining and souls on board," the air traffic controller asked, further indicating trouble from the aircraft.
The Airbus A319 aircraft was able to land safely and as its engines were not impacted, the jet was able to taxi to Delta's Terminal 4. Pilots could have continued to LaGuardia but the decision to divert to nearby Kennedy was likely to take advantage of the airport's larger runways.
The incident marks Delta's second with an Airbus A319 aircraft in 2020. Another Delta A319 had slid off of an icy taxiway in January with no reported injuries either.
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