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Bird Strike Forces JetBlue Plane To Make Emergency Landing At JFK

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A JetBlue plane made an emergency landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport following a bird strike, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

JetBlue Airways Flight 671 experienced a bird strike shortly after taking off from Westchester County Airport in White Plains at about 9:30 a.m. Friday.

Out of an abundance of caution, the pilot decided to divert the plane to JFK, where it landed safely just before 10 a.m., JetBlue said.

The following is a transcript of exchanges between the air traffic controller and the pilot of the plane, courtesy of LiveATC.net.

Pilot: Just be advised that we hit birds here.
Controller: Is everything ok?
Pilot: Yeah. We’ll get back with you. Just be advised that we have birds off of White Plains. We do have maybe some, a little bit of nose damage. We are not quite sure at this point. We will carry on and divert to JFK.

Passengers said they didn’t know there was a problem until the pilot made an announcement, WCBS 880′s Paul Murnane reported.

“He came on and announced that we had hit a bird,” said passenger Jerry Casey.

“He said that we had a little bird problem on the take-off,” passenger Mort Lebin said, adding that the pilot also said he “felt bad for the bird.”

The bird strike put a hole in the nose of the Airbus A320, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported.

Passengers saw the damage when they exited the plane and walked onto the tarmac.

“We saw the blood all over the front,”Lebin said.

“You could see that it was clearly inextricably meshed into the metal,” passenger Barry Mark said. “Not a pretty picture.”

The plane, which was bound for Palm Beach International Airport in Florida, was carrying 142 passengers. No injuries were reported.

“It could’ve been a lot worse, we think of what happened with the emergency landing in the Hudson the other year, by comparison this was a non-issue,” said Mark. “A few hours later arrival than planned, but you know what, safe is always best.”

Passengers were given the option of getting another flight from JFK or being taken back to Westchester County, CBS 2′s Andrea Grymes reported.

The FAA will investigate.

Bird strikes are not uncommon.

In the most famous incident, Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger splash-landed a US Airways flight in the Hudson River following a double bird strike on Jan. 15, 2009. All 155 people on board Flight 1549 were rescued and uninjured.

In June 2013, JetBlue Flight 1205 from White Plains to Fort Myers had to be divert to JFK after a bird strike.

In April 2012, JetBlue Flight 571 headed to West Palm Beach, Fla. was forced to turn around and make an emergency landing at Westchester County Airport after the plane struck by two geese.

Last year alone the FAA reported 11,000 wildlife strikes at 650 airports nationwide.

Jacques Astre, a retired FAA safety inspector and current aviation safety consultant, told Grymes bird strikes happen “routinely.”

Astre said airports and airlines are prepared for birds, so passengers should not be worried.

“They have various means, again, K-9 teams, people teams, patrols, airguns. (Scarecrows you mentioned?) Scarecrows.”

Astre said the pilot in Friday’s incident handled the situation in the right way.

Westchester County Airport said it has a very aggressive bird strike program, including keeping a USDA wildlife biologist on staff.

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