Delta Returns Boeing 757 Damaged In Hard Landing To Service

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 757 which sustained notable damage during a hard landing in August has returned to service. Since 1 December, the aircraft has returned to normal duties with Delta, after being repaired near the airline’s headquarters in Atlanta.

Back in August, Simple Flying reported on an incident involving a Delta Air Lines Boeing 757 and a particularly hard landing at Ponta Delgada Airport in the Azores.

On 18 August, the Delta Air Lines Boeing 757, registered N543US, landed heavily, sustaining notable cosmetic damage to its fuselage around the nose landing gear.

As you can see in the photos in the tweet below, the skin of the fuselage appears to have buckled in a couple of places.

At the time, it seemed like the damage sustained during the heavy landing may well have spelled the end of the aircraft’s operational life.

What did passengers aboard the flight have to say?

As reported by One Mile at a Time, a couple of the site’s readers were aboard the flight and were able to give their own accounts of the incident.

One reader going by the name of Erinr, said:

“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.”

The incident happened at Ponta Delgada Airport in the Azores. Photo: Ymblanter via Wikimedia Commons

Another reader named Beth, said:

“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.”

Going off these passenger accounts, as well as the photos of the damage on the outside of the aircraft, it’s easy to see why there were doubts about whether the aircraft would be able to fly again.

Delta’s efforts to get the aircraft back in the air

After landing at Ponta Delgada, Delta initially flew an Antonov AN-124 halfway across the Atlantic, loaded with supplies and parts in an effort to fix the aircraft.

On 16 September the damaged Boeing 757 then flew back across the Atlantic to Delta Air Lines’ base in Atlanta, Georgia.

From this point onwards it seems Delta got stuck into repairing the aircraft. It was not until 1 December that it was deemed safe to return to commercial service.

There aren’t any details about the damage the aircraft sustained or the repairs that had to be completed to get it back into the air.

Simple Flying has requested a comment from Delta Air Lines regarding the repair process, but we haven’t heard back from the airline yet.

The aircraft is now safely back in the air. Photo: lkarasawa via Flickr

Going off what we can deduce from the fact that the aircraft has returned to regular service, flying multiple flights since it returned to service, we can make a few assumptions.

Firstly, going off the cosmetic damage that was seen just after the crash, the internal damage must have been less severe than it looked.

On top of this, the repair costs must have been low enough that Delta was willing to spend two months repairing a 24-year-old Boeing 757, rather than scrapping it.