Baltimore-bound flight cut short after plane strikes birds

November 30, 2013

Among the pillars of Thanksgiving tradition are travel and the consumption of birds. An incident Friday combined two of these holiday institutions, but not in the way that might immediately come to mind.

A Southwest Airlines flight bound for Baltimore-Washington Marshall International Airport returned to the airport in Manchester, N.H., after striking birds, authorities said Saturday.

A spokesman for the airline, Dan Landson, said the birds were drawn into both engines of the Boeing 737-300 not long after takeoff from Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. Neither engine shut down, Landson said, but the airplane returned to the airport “out of an abundance of caution.”

There was “never an emergency declared,” Landson said. The 131 passengers aboard Flight 4055 continued their trip to the Washington region on another plane, he said.

Tom Malafronte, a spokesman for the airport, said initial inspections of the airplane revealed no visible damage.

However, he said, the airline chose to take the plane out of service until mechanics could complete an inspection.

He called the incident rare and an inconvenience, but added that “safety is always the first priority.”

In perhaps the most dramatic recent collision involving avians and an airliner, a US Airways flight struck birds shortly after departure from LaGuardia Airport in New York on Jan. 15, 2009.

In the highly dramatic incident, the pilot made an emergency landing in the Hudson River.

The birds involved in that incident have been identified as Canada geese.

It was not immediately known what kind of birds was involved in Friday’s incident, but Malafronte said they were small.

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