Portuguese American Journal

Two aircraft struck by birds forced to land – Lajes, Azores

A SATA-International aircraft on flight to Boston was forced to land Tuesday on Lajes International Airport, on Terceira Island, after being struck by a flock of birds shortly after take-off.

Also on Tuesday, a similar incident involving a TAP Air Portugal aircraft and a flock of birds caused a forced landing on Lajes International Airport. The plane was taking-off on a domestic flight from Terceira to Lisbon.

Although both planes suffered significant damage and were grounded, there were no reports of injuries. According to a source at Lajes, passengers from both fights were stranded at the airport.

A source at Lajes International Airport also reported two previous similar incidents in the last three days involving birds and aircraft.

Recently, on June 20,  a flock of seagulls was caught inside the reactors of a SATA Airbus A320, forcing an emergency landing shortly after takeoff, on a flight from Funchal International Airport, in Madeira, to Copenhagen, Denmark.

Bird strikes, or the collision of an aircraft with an airborne bird, tend to happen when aircraft are close to the ground, which means just before landing or after take-off, when jet engines are turning at top speeds.

The incidents are serious particularly when the birds, usually gulls, raptors and geese, are sucked into a jet engine and strike an engine fan blade. That impact displaces the blade such that it strikes another blade and a cascade can occur, resulting in engine failure.