JetBlue flight makes emergency landing after bird strike

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - A JetBlue flight that took off from Buffalo, Thursday morning, had to make an emergency return to the airport after a bird strike.

JetBlue flight 2216 was en route to Boston. It left the airport about 6:00 a.m. and was scheduled to land at 7:20 a.m.

The crew reported a bird strike ten minutes into the flight.

The plane landed safely at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport about 6:15 a.m.

It does not appear anyone was hurt.

Jess Murszewski tells 7 Eyewitness News she was on the flight, sitting on the side of the engine that was damaged. Below is her full account of what happened.

"Roughly 10 minutes into the flight there was a loud engine noise coming from the pilot’s side of the plane, the side which I was seated on. The plane was vibrating a bit. Us passengers all looked at each other wondering what was going on. I noticed the engines slowed in acceleration and the altitude climb of a normal takeoff slowed.

"The captain informed us that it was a potential bird strike and that we were turning back around to Buffalo. Us passengers all looked at each other a bit shocked because there wasn't turbulence or visible sign (feathers or smoke) that something happened concerning that engine.

"There was a smooth landing. We were met with emergency vehicles taxing down the runway with us. At the gate we were told to stay seated while they did an inspection to determine what definitively caused the issue. After roughly 10 minutes they stated it was in fact a seagull that hit the engine and there was a crack in the engine blade and we would need to get off the plane so they could perform repairs."

At the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, wildlife patrol uses a starter pistol with special rounds that shoot up in the air and emit loud noises to scare birds away from the runway between flights. 

"We call them bangers and screamers," Air Field Superintendent Joe Guarino said. "We're in constant contact with the tower so they'll let us know the location, where they are, and what location the birds are flying to and from."

Guarino says major airfields use dogs and even falconry to deter birds. Employees at Mercy Flight and people who work around the runway say they can hear the starter pistols going off constantly during the day.

"We do a great job here," Guarino said. "It's very safe. That was an anomaly today, and for the most part we're on top of everything."

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