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July 30, 2013

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Bird strike forces jet back to airport

A CHINA Eastern Airlines jet had to return to Hongqiao International Airport minutes after take-off following a bird strike, the airline said yesterday.

Flight MU5547, bound for Yantai City in eastern China’s Shandong Province, took off at 7:25pm on Sunday, but returned to Hongqiao Airport at 7:47pm, after its right engine was hit by several birds, said the carrier’s duty manager Yan Shuming.

The flight was operated by an Airbus A320 which can carry up to 200 passengers.

A replacement jet left Hongqiao at 9:47pm, Yan said.

Passengers had reported to cabin crew that they heard unusual mechanical noises about five minutes into the flight.

“At first we thought it was the undercarriage being retracted but then smelled burning,” a passenger surnamed Ren said.

“We told cabin crew, who straight away notified the captain,” he added.

The captain ordered an immediate return to Hongqiao.

Ground crew established that the several birds had been sucked into the right engine.

The aircraft is now undergoing tests before returning to service.

Airport authorities in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou have been employing new methods of deterring birds after a number of collisions with aircraft recently.

These include spraying insecticide near runways to remove food sources for birds and releasing a special repellent with a smell birds can’t stand, the Shanghai Airport Authority said yesterday.

Other measures employed include playing recordings of predators, setting off explosive charges and setting up nets.

Bird strikes most often occur during take-off or landing and can cause serious damage to engines.

There have been at least three bird strike incidents at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport this month, forcing planes to change schedules and causing delays.

Bird strikes happen often in spring and summer in coastal cities such as Shanghai when migrant birds are breeding, said Chen Zhi, a manager with China Eastern Engineering and Technology Co.

Yuan Xiao, deputy director of the Shanghai Wildlife Conservation Station, said Pudong International Airport is built next to the wetland home of herons.

The large birds can sometimes be seen flying beside aircraft near the airport.



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