What happens when a large bird strikes a commercial passenger plane? That’s the question pilots and passengers onboard a Mango flight from Cape Town International answered this weekend.
According to reports, a Mango-operated Boeing 737 passenger plane struck a pelican shortly after departure from the Western Cape’s largest airport. The impact left a massive dent in the plane’s left-hand side horizontal stabiliser.
The stabiliser (part of the tail section) is largely employed to provide stability and tail lift as the plane travels through the air.
— Derek Smith (@DerekSmithDurbs) April 9, 2017
The plane, due to a number of weight and flight restrictions, was forced to continue its journey towards Durban for a further 200km, before it could return and descend to Cape Town.
Although the pelican came out the loser, the Mango Boeing 737 will be grounded until repairs are done
Although the incident reportedly took place on Sunday, Mango informed passengers of potential delays on Monday morning.
“We always strive to be on time, but due to a bird-strike incident to one of our aircraft, disruptions in our schedule may occur this week,” the airliner tweeted.
We always strive to be on time, but due to a bird-strike incident to one of our aircraft, disruptions in our schedule may occur this week.
— Mango Airlines (@FlyMangoSA) April 10, 2017
Although fairly rare in South Africa, bird strikes are a big problem for aircraft across the world.
The FAA reports that over 160 000 incidents were documented (pdf) in the US between 1990 and 2015 alone. Remarkably, less than 1800 of those incidents involved a bird strike impacting aircrafts’ tail sections.
No human injuries were reported, but the plane will require repairs, and we don’t really need to comment on the unfortunate pelican.
Feature image: Alan Wilson via Flickr (CC 2.0, resized)