JetBlue flight returns to Westchester after bird strike

April 25, 2012 9:16:29 AM PDT
A JetBlue plane packed with passengers was forced to make an emergency landing Tuesday after a bird strike.

Flight 571, carrying 54 passengers bound for West Palm Beach, Florida, made an emergency landing at Westchester Airport shortly after taking off from the same airport.

Investigators are examining the aircraft Wednesday after the violent encounter with a pair of geese.

The birds crossed the runway around 6:30 p.m. As the flight lifted off. Two geese splattered across the windshield, prompting the pilot to turn the plane around.

"The plane started swerving immediately right after the two hits," passenger Laura Echavarria said. "So he was rocking the plane back and forth, and we knew something was going on."

The jet made a safe landing.

Just last week, a Delta jet was damaged by geese sucked into its engine near Kennedy Airport. And it was a bird strike that led to Captain Sully Sullenberger's miracle landing in the Hudson.

There were nearly 10,000 animal strikes on jets last year in the United States, with a total cost of $600 million in damage.

"We deal with them on a routine basis," one official said. "Most of the time, they're an inconvenience. But on occasion, you get an incident like this where you'll have some damage."

The passengers were put on another Jet Blue plane and landed in Palm Beach around 9:40 Tuesday night.

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