KLM Flies A 9 Hour Flight To Nowhere After 787 Windshield Cracks

A Brazil-bound KLM flight spent over nine hours in the air yesterday, only to land back in Amsterdam, from where it had departed that morning. The reason for the diversion was said to be a cracked windshield on the Boeing 787 operating the flight. But what happened to the aircraft and its passengers upon their arrival back in the Netherlands?

KLM 787 Getty
The flight to Rio turned back towards Amsterdam having only reached a position west of the Canary Islands. Photo: Getty Images

The flight in question

KLM flight KL705 is a scheduled service between Amsterdam Schipol (AMS) and Rio de Janeiro/Galeão International Airport (GIG). The flight generally operates with a frequency of five services a week. According to FlightRadar24.com, the Dutch flag carrier utilizes either Boeing 777 or 787 ‘Dreamliner’ aircraft on this route.

It is scheduled to depart Amsterdam at 10:25 local time. Arrival in Rio de Janeiro is timed for 18:20 local time, giving a scheduled flight time of 11 hours and 55 minutes. ANAC, Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency, reports that, with over 145,000 passengers annually, Amsterdam represented Rio de Janeiro’s sixth-busiest intercontinental route in 2014.

Many hours in the air

On December 26th, FlightRadar24.com reports that flight KL705 took off from Schipol’s runway 24, known as the ‘Kaagbaan.’ It departed slightly behind schedule, at 10:41 local time. However, over a flight of nearly 12 hours, one would have expected that this 16-minute delay would easily be overcome, resulting in a punctual arrival in Brazil. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

KL705 Flightpath 26Dec2020
The flightpath of KL705 on December 26th. Image: FlightRadar24.com

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According to The Aviation Herald, the aircraft suffered a cracked windshield, specifically constituting a cracked outer pane on the right-hand side. The fact that only one layer cracked meant that damage was minimal. However, it still resulted in a loud bang which could be heard in the passenger cabin.

The incident occurred over the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately 620 NM (1,150 km) south of the Azores, and 590 NM (1,090 km) west-southwest of the Canary Islands. The crew elected to return to Amsterdam following the incident. It had occurred at an altitude of 36,000 feet, and the aircraft maintained this height for the majority of its cruise back to the Netherlands.

KLM Boeing 787-9
KLM operates both the -9 (13 examples) and -10 (5 examples) variants of the Boeing 787. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | JFKJets.com

The flight landed back at Schipol on runway 18R, known as the ‘Polderbaan.’ This is the airport’s newest runway, having opened in 2003. Touchdown occurred at 19:53 local time, 9 hours and 12 minutes after flight KL705’s initial departure.

KLM transferred passengers to a replacement Boeing 787, which departed Amsterdam just under two hours later at 21:42. After 11 hours and 13 minutes in the air, they finally arrived in Rio at 04:55 local time the following morning. The delay totaled an eye-watering 10 hours and 35 minutes.

The aircraft involved

On December 26th, KL705 was initially operated by a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner bearing the registration PH-BHD. According to Planespotters.net, KLM took delivery of this aircraft, which bears the name Bougainvillaea / Bougainville, in February 2016. It has not flown since the incident. However, data from FlightRadar24.com suggests that tonight it will operate flight KL835 from Amsterdam to Singapore. If so, it will depart Schipol at 21:10 local time.

KLM Boeing 787-9 Amsterdam Getty
KLM’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft seat 294 passengers across three classes. Photo: Getty Images

The replacement flight was operated by another Boeing 787-9. This aircraft bears the registration PH-BHO, and the name Orchid / Orchidee. Planespotters.net reports that KLM took delivery of this particular Dreamliner in March 2018.

It is also operating the return flight, KL706. This is currently set to arrive in Amsterdam at 21:48 tonight, around nine-and-a-half hours late. According to SeatGuru, KLM’s 787-9 aircraft seat 30 business, 48 economy comfort, and 216 economy passengers.

What do you make of this incident? Have you ever been onboard a ‘flight to nowhere’? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.