A bird strike just after takeoff caused an United Airlines flight back to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Friday according to the airline.
The flight 1930, which was the Boeing 737-900 was scheduled to Miami International Airport.
“The aircraft landed safely and passengers deplaned at the gate,” United Airlines said in an announcement. The airline didn’t give specifics about any damage that could have occurred to the aircraft.
Kimberly Fiock was on the plane on Friday morning with her husband.
“I knew something was wrong because there was fire below the wing that kept coming out in spurts, and it felt like the plane was kind of jerking,” Fiock said to CNN.
“We could hear the pops of the engine trying to start and see the fire on our side since we were right by the wing. The lights kept flickering, too, when it would pop. I was just hoping we would be able to land safely!”
Fiock admitted that she didn’t realise the bird’s strike was responsible for the issue until after the plane had landed.
“The pilots did a great job getting us back safely, and I’m so grateful to them and the crew,” she added.
The flight tracking website FlightAware confirms it that Flight 1930 took off at 10:47 a.m. local time. The plane returned to O’Hare 42 minutes later.
A brand new plane has been assigned to this flight according to the airline it was scheduled to depart late on Friday afternoon.
As per the Federal Aviation Administration, there more than 17,000 wild animal strikers at 753 US airports in 2019.
Engines are among the most damaged part of commercial aircraft in the US according to the FAA and account for nearly 25% of all aircraft components that have been damaged.
The FAA has the FAA’s Wildlife Strike Database that tracks such events.
A number of animal collisions that involve aircrafts is increasing The FAA states on its site for wildlife.
The number of strikes has risen steadily from 1,800 in 1990, to 16,600 in the year 2018, according to the FAA website says..
“Expanding wildlife populations, increases in number of aircraft movements, a trend toward faster and quieter aircraft, and outreach to the aviation community all have contributed to the observed increase in reported wildlife strikes,” the FAA website says.
In 2009, pilot Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III famously made a landing US Airways Flight 1549 on New York’s Hudson River after a double bird strike destroyed two engines on the plane..