Monday 9 December 2019

Bird strike rips bloody hole in plane fuselage as it lands at airport

Air Namibia flight lands safely

Bird strike to an Air Namibia plane in 2016. Photo: Twitter/@pastor_ellen
Bird strike to an Air Namibia plane in 2016. Photo: Twitter/@pastor_ellen

Hugh Morris

An Air Namibia aircraft has suffered significant damage after a bird collided with the plane during landing.

The incident – known in the industry as a “bird strike” – involved an Air Namibia A319-100 aircraft and an as-yet unknown bird on the approach to Hosea Kutako International Airport on Thursday, January 14.

The plane landed safely and nobody was hurt, but a Twitter user later tweeted a photograph of the damage the bird caused to the fuselage.

Paul Nakawa, the airline’s spokesperson, told the Namibian news website that a bird strike can cause serious damage to aircraft.

“Bird strikes are common during landing and taking off of an aircraft because these are the times when the aircraft is flying in the ranges where birds are also flying,” he said.

“Regarding this recent incident, a big bird hit one of our four A319-100 aircraft that services our regional routes just when it was about to land.

"It left one of the underbody panels of the aircraft damaged.”

He added that bird strikes are “beyond human power”, but pilots employ techniques learned in training to ensure the safety of passengers on-board.

Nakawa said the airline apologised to passengers, all 112 of whom safely disembarked. Engineers have since been flown in from South Arica to repair the plane.

A bird strike involving a Turkish Airlines aircraft last May left the plane with a crumpled nose (see below).

Telegraph Travel looked at bird strikes in closer detail in 2011, with transport editor David Millward explaining that catastrophic bird strikes are a rare event.

"Even though birds can and do cause damage to both the engine and windscreen in most cases, the impact is minimal.

"Airports use a variety of techniques to keep birds away, including firing guns to scare them off. Some even use birds of prey, such as falcons, to disperse potentially hazardous flocks.

"In addition, aircraft manufacturers test engines’ ability to cope with a bird strike by a using a device known as a chicken gun.

"This entails catapulting poultry, in some cases frozen, at the engine to check how resilient it is to bird strike."

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