PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — A bird strike forced the emergency landing of a JetBlue flight out of Palm Beach International Airport to New York city on Sunday.
Video shows a falling bird after colliding with the JetBlue plane shortly after takeoff.
The man who shot it near the PBI runway claims he heard a loud bang.
Fearing engine damage, the pilot made an emergency landing, but passengers at PBIA who knew of the weekend incident say they’re not concerned about bird strikes.
“Not very much,” Elissa Bernier of Vero Beach said. “I don’t even think about it. I don’t even think about it.”
“Typically, when I board a plane, I have my headphones, I’m on my phone or watching a movie and I just wait until I get to the destination,” added passenger Mark Hughes, who arrived from Boston.
“Bird strikes are going to happen,” said David Bjellos, a corporate pilot and a former airline pilot from Lake Worth Beach who says he's had a few bird strikes.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there were 332 reported bird strikes from flights to and from PBIA in the last decade. Twenty-six happened last year, 15 of them involving airline jets.
“I’ve hit plenty of birds and didn’t even know it,” Bjellos said. “I didn’t find out until after the flight was over and I saw blood on a wing or blood on a tail.”
According to Bjellos, airports can only do so much to keep birds away.
Birds are attracted to the grassy areas and retention ponds.
And airports can’t do anything with birds in parks and neighborhoods outside the airport boundaries.
JetBlue is still gathering information on Flight 62 flight bound for LaGuardia airport in New York.
It happened on the 14th anniversary of the Miracle on the Hudson in New York.
That’s when a US Air flight took off from LaGuardia when several Canada Geese got stuck in all engines, forcing the plane to land in the river.
The crew and all 155 passengers were rescued.
David Bjellos says that incident and this weekend’s emergency landing, show bird strikes are no match for the well-built jetliners and their well-trained pilots.
“By law, we’re required to demonstrate proficiency when flying the airplane fails at the most critical time, which is right at takeoff,” Bjellos said.
According to the FAA, 97% of bird strikes occur close to takeoff or landings.
The agency says the speed of the plane and the size of the bird are the main factors determining if the strike causes enough damage to force an emergency landing.