All on China flight safe after jet-hawk collision
The China Post news staffA China Eastern Airlines passenger plane bound for Shanghai with 299 people onboard made an emergency return flight to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport yesterday afternoon after being struck by a bird.
July 11, 2012, 12:17 am TWN
China Eastern's flight MU5008, which departed Taoyuan for Shanghai Pudong International Airport, returned to the airport at 4:28 p.m. after a black hawk was sucked into one of the plane's engines shortly after takeoff.
The airline of mainland China said all of the 15 crew members and 284 passengers onboard the Airbus A330 aircraft were unharmed.
The captain made the emergency decision of returning to the airport after sensing something unusual with an engine on the left side of the plane, the airline said.
The passengers were informed of a “mechanical glitch” after the flight landed safely. They learned of the bird incident later when they were taken to the terminal for transfer to other aircraft.
They praised the prompt decision and calmness of the captain since the flight made a stable landing despite engine complications resulting from impact with the bird.
A group of young passengers gathered to sing songs for the captain and all other crew members in appreciation of their efforts that had “saved” their lives.
They asked to have group photos taken with the crew. Some flight attendants were moved to tears.
Most passengers departed for Pudong on a separate plane later in the day and some others chose to stay in Taiwan for one more day before flying to China today, the airline said.
The first plane underwent a thorough inspection and maintenance at the airport.
The bird that caused the incident was identified as an Elanus caeruleus hawk, also known as black-shouldered hawk, a migratory bird with protected status.
Bird Collision Warnings
The Flight Safety Foundation-Taiwan just issued a warning on Monday calling for measures to improve safety at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.
The organization said that there was at least one collision between aircraft and birds per week over the airport in 2011, the highest rate recorded in six years.
From 2006 to 2011, there were 155 reports of bird strikes at the airport, 64 of which took place last year.
The number of bird strikes at the airport in 2011 was 2.3 times the number in 2010 when 28 cases were recorded, and 5 times the number in 2006 when there were only 13 cases.
Of the 64 incidents reported in 2011, seven resulted in damage to the aircraft, the foundation said.
The foundation said the high number of bird strikes at the airport could be related to its proximity to Taiwan's West Coast, a habitat of migratory birds.
In addition, there are many fish ponds and an abandoned military airport runway nearby, which attract birds looking to breed there, the foundation said.