A flight with 200 passengers on the Irish airline Ryanair was aborted Monday when duct tape used to hold the pilot's window in place reportedly became unstuck.
At the start of the 1,000-mile flight bound for Riga in Lativa from Stanted, Essex, passengers watched in disbelief and horror as ground crew applied the tape around the edge of the windscreen shortly before departure, The Sun reported.
Passenger Anthony Neal, 33, from Bromley, Kent told The Sun: "We were terrified. I could see the guys taping the windscreen, with what looked like duct tape or gaffer tape."
The flight was forced to abandon its journey after 20 minutes, when the tape became loosened and reportedly made alarming noises.
"We were in the sky, then the pilot said due to damage on the windscreen, we were going to have to turn back,” Neal said.
According to former pilot John Guntrip, "This could have been disastrous; the pilot could have been sucked out mid-air if the window had come off."
The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) told the Daily Mail that they were satisfied with the application of the tape, which was an extra precaution that would have ordinarily lasted in place for a week.
A spokesperson for the IAA explained that the maintenance performed on the abandoned plane was carried out according to standard procedures.
Dublin-based Ryanair flew 72.1 million passengers in 2010 and 2011, but owners plan to increase the size of its fleet to double the current capacity. Michael O’Leary, chief executive of the airline, said that Ryanair could earmark 50 new aircrafts to serve Scandinavia and an additional 100 to service the Baltic regions, Poland, Hungry and the Czech Republic.
Ryanair's planes are built by U.S. manufacturer Boeing, and analysts speculate that costs could increase if it bought aircraft from another manufacturer. Lower costs might just be the deciding factor in any decision by O'Leary, who is known for applying controversial cost-cutting measures like charging for the use of toilets, standing passenger space and scrapping the roll of a co-pilot.