The passengers aboard Southwest Airlines Flight 3118 bound for Baltimore had quite the scare when they experienced a bird strike on approach to the Baltimore Washington International Airport on Friday night.
The Daily Mail reports that the Boeing 737 was carrying 142 passengers, plus crew, from San Antonio to Baltimore when the bird strike occurred. The report claims that some passengers said that flames were shooting from the engine after the strike. During the intense moments aboard the plane, at least one passenger snapped a photo of the dead bird and damaged wing. Antonio Wolff posted a photo to his personal Twitter account detailing that there was a “hole” in the wing and that the crew was “fantastic.”
— Antonio Wolff (@awolff) December 13, 2014
Another Twitter user posted a photo of emergency crew inspecting the plane’s engine after safely landing.
Plane safely landed at BWI tonight after a birdstrike! Photo By: Greg Hintz pic.twitter.com/Hkg7NCr32E
— Yianis Fournelis (@YianisFournelis) December 13, 2014
WBALTV notes that the plane was met by emergency vehicles after the landing as a precaution. However, no one was injured during the frightening ordeal. A local private pilot who lives in Pasadena told WBALTV that he saw the plane as it approached BWI-Marshall and he heard a frightening noise.
“It sounded like a large automatic weapon going off, like a hammering sound. It was indicative of a bird being ingested into an engine. We could look up and see the Southwest 737 aircraft.”
NBC Washington says that 911 received a number of calls from people claiming that a plane was in distress over Gibson Island. The Anne Arundel County Fire Department was then dispatched to the airport out of precaution.
This isn’t the first time a plane has been damaged by a bird strike. An American Airlines flight out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was the victim of a bird strike earlier this year, which forced the plane to turn back. However, it seems that bird strikes are not that uncommon in the aviation industry. In fact, a report released by the Federal Aviation Administration says that wildlife strikes are a real threat to aircraft.
“Globally, wildlife strikes have killed more than 255 people and destroyed over 243 aircraft since 1988.”
In fact, the number of wildlife strikes seems to be increasing rather than decreasing. The FAA notes a 6.1-fold increase in bird strikes since 1990.
“The number of strikes annually reported to the FAA has increased 6.1-fold from 1,851 in 1990 to a record 11,315 in 2013.”
Following the scary bird strike incident, the plane was removed from service and inspected for further damage.