DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – A jetliner carrying six Dallas City Council members and the interim city manager had to return to DFW Airport Tuesday night after a bird-strike damaged one of the Boeing 757’s jet engines.
A statement Wednesday from American Airlines said, “American Airlines Flight 1017 from Dallas/Fort Worth to Seattle returned to DFW after takeoff because of an apparent bird strike. No emergency was declared and the flight landed back at DFW without incident. We swapped aircraft and the flight re-departed for SEA just before 8:30 p.m. It was a Boeing 757 with 182 passengers and a crew of six.”
DFW Airport said it gets about 300 wildlife strikes a year involving more than just birds. Veteran pilots tell me bird strikes are common. An engine failure from one usually isn’t.
“We knew something was wrong,” Councilman Philip Kingston told CBS 11 News by phone in Seattle. He did not hear the bird strike, he said, but did notice one of the Boeing 757’s engines sounded bad. “Apparently the people who actually sat by the engine really heard the bird hit but that must’ve been pretty unnerving.
Still, Kingston says the pilot got on the intercom right away and told them of the dilemma. “We have bad news we have to return to DFW, that a bird had damaged the left engine and it made too much vibration. It’s still running, we’re not in danger, this is not an emergency.” Kingston added, “I honestly am very thankful it wasn’t scary.”
The most famous bird strike in recent aviation history was the “Miracle on the Hudson,” when a flock of birds compromised both engines and the jet was forced into a water landing. The miracle part is no one was killed.
“A lot of the training is spent on one engine,” according to aviation expert Denny Kelly, He tells CBS 11 News that pilots are constantly drilled about flying with one engine. He says the 757 has more than enough power from a single source. “And you shut down the engine, they’re trained to do it, they’re trained to fly on one engine, they’re trained to land the airplane on one engine, which is what they did – safely.”
DFW says it will send the bird’s remains from Tuesday night’s incident to the Smithsonian for analysis. It also has an entire department devoted to its bird problems, identifying them and discovering nesting habits. The airport mows grass very short around runways so birds can’t nest. They use pyrotechnics to scare them and falcons to prey on them; but animal rights activists can be critical of those methods…and sadly, Kelly says, sometimes falcons can get sucked into jet engines.
“These programs are not super-successful,” in his opinion. “You still have a lot of bird strikes and you still have a lot of birds that go through engines and when they go through an engine, they can destroy it.”
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