SOFIA, the NASA operated 747SP N747NA ( cn: 21441 / 306 ), is down for maintenance after being damaged by a storm that affected the area around Christchurch International Airport in New Zealand on Monday, July 18.
During the severe weather event, high winds caused the stairs outside the aircraft to shift, causing light damage to the front of the aircraft, as well as the stairs themselves. There were no injuries to any staff. The aircraft damage is being assessed, repair plans are moving forward, and new stairs are being delivered. During this time, the mission’s science observation schedule will be reassessed, as SOFIA is unable to continue normal operations until the repairs are complete and stairs are available.
SOFIA currently is operating out of Christchurch International Airport to better observe celestial objects in the Southern Hemisphere.