Bird strike forces flight to return to area airport - WNEM TV 5

Bird strike forces flight to return to area airport

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Not the exact aircraft involved in the bird strike -- photo courtesy of Aero Icarus. Not the exact aircraft involved in the bird strike -- photo courtesy of Aero Icarus.

A routine flight proved to be a close call for 123 passengers and crew on board a Southwest Airline jet leaving Flint's Bishop Airport for Tampa, Florida, on Monday morning.

As the Boeing 737-700 powered up for takeoff, the plane hit a flock of birds and was struck by multiple bird impacts.

The Aviation Herald states that the crew continued takeoff, barely acknowledging the tower's calls to state that they'd had a successful takeoff.

The crew then indicated they needed to return to Flint. Following three tense minutes of concentration by the crew to make sure the aircraft was not in imminent danger, the crew advised the tower that the "airplane simply didn't feel right." During this time, the tower began a runway inspection. The crew advised they needed nice easy turns and could not accept a sharp turn to intercept the localizer. The crew advised they had lost a system or two and were trying to work it out during final approach.

The Aviation Herald stated the runway inspection reported they couldn't see anything on the runway, but there were two dead birds looking like eagles south of runway 27 and east of runway 36.

The aircraft landed safely on Flint's runway 27 about 20 minutes after departure. The FAA reported the aircraft received substantial damage and rated the bird strike occurrence an accident. 

A replacement Boeing 737-700 reached Tampa with a delay of 3 hours, 20 minutes. 

Southwest issued the following statement through communication specialist Michelle Agnew:

Our Pilots are trained to handle situations such as bird strikes, and these situations are not uncommon. Our aircraft are also built to sustain such situations. 

Flight 4273 encountered a bird strike shortly after takeoff; the Captain did not declare an emergency; the flight returned to Flint Bishop Intl. Airport. The flight landed uneventfully, with 119 Customers. We flew in a spare aircraft from Chicago to accommodate the passengers on to Tampa.

The original aircraft was taken out of service for maintenance.

The plane was repaired and has returned to service.

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