The voice of theÂ Delta Air LinesÂ captain on Flight 1063 on Thursday sounds beyond calm as he informs air traffic controllers: “AaaandÂ Delta 1063 has had an engine failure on the right engine, declaring an emergency due to a bird strike.” (Check out the audio above, posted online byÂ NYC Aviation.)
The rest of the conversation tracks theÂ emergency landingÂ of the flight that had just taken off from New York’sÂ John F.Â Kennedy International AirportÂ and was bound for Los Angeles. The plane carrying 179 passengers and crew turned around after losing an engine when it was struck by birds. No one was injured.
The most famous emergency landing because of a bird strike was the 2009 ditching of a US Airways flight into theÂ Hudson RiverÂ by CaptainÂ Chesley Sullenberger. ItÂ quickly became known as “the Miracle on the Hudson” after all 155 passengers and crew members were rescued before the plane sank. The birds that struck the plane were a flock of Canada geese.
So how common are bird strikes? There have been 100,000 wildlife strikes on civil and U.S. Air Force planes between 1990 and 2008, according to theÂ Federal Aviation Administration’s online Wildlife Strike Database. Most happen between July and October and at or below 3,000 feet above ground level.
Since 1990, 23 fatalities and 209 injuries have been attributed to wildlife strikes on U.S. planes. The deadliest strike took place on Oct. 4, 1960, when an Eastern Air Lines flight was hit by a flock of starlings and all four engines were damaged. The aircraft crashed into Boston harbor, killing 62 people.