Yes, it’s a weird headline, isn’t it? A plane forced to make an emergency landing after colliding with a predatory bird, with its prey firmly in its clutch.
But it’s a true story.
A Virgin Australia plane was headed for Brisbane on Friday, but shortly after take-off from Tullamarine airport flew straight into an eagle, carrying a rabbit in its talons.
According to AVGeekery, the eagle collided with the plane’s landing gear, forcing the pilot to radio control towers and make a report of engine problems.
Per AVGeekery, Virgin Australia issued a statement, stating, “Upon suspecting a bird strike, the pilot decided to return to Melbourne and the aircraft landed safely”.
Back at Melbourne Airport, crews inspected the plane for any damage caused by the collision, or any evidence of debris from the hungry predator. This saw the east-west runway temporarily shut down, with the Transport Safety Bureau conducting an investigation.
Per AVGeekery, all passengers safely deplaned after making the emergency landing, with no injuries reported from the collision.
It comes a few months after two planes collided with birds in the space of two days, leaving us fearing a bird-pocalypse similar to that of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.
An AirAsia flight was diverted after a birdstrike caused “a loud bang” and alleged flames coming out of the engine. Just one day later, a Virgin flight was also diverted after a bird flew into the plane’s windscreen, obstructing the pilot’s view.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said a report released in February showed that the number of bird strikes has risen quite dramatically since 2014-15.
Per ABC, the largest levels were found in Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Sydney and the Gold Coast.
In the decade to 2015, bird strikes rose 47 per cent, which seems massive, however the ATSB thinks it’s probably got something to do with the mammoth growth in high capacity flights taking off in that period.
All up, between 2006 and 2015, 16,069 bird strikes were reported to the bureau.