A Virgin flight on its way to Brisbane was forced to make an emergency landing at Melbourne airport after a bird, believed to be an eagle, reportedly struck one of its engines.
Emergency services rushed to Melbourne airport on Friday morning following reports of a passenger plane hitting the bird mid-flight, a Metropolitan Fire Brigade spokeswoman said.
The plane safely touched down at the airport shortly before 10am and everyone on board was safe, police said.
A Melbourne Airport spokesperson told The New Daily the VA319 plane struck a bird during takeoff, using the east-west runway.
“The aircraft returned and landed safely at 9.45am. Passengers disembarked shortly after 10am,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said the east-west runway at Melbourne Airport had been closed and the aircraft landed on the north-south runway.
“A team conducted an extensive inspection of the east-west runway to check for any debris from the incident and ensure the runway was clear of debris before it reopened.”
A Virgin Airline spokesperson confirmed the VA319 flight from Melbourne to Brisbane this morning had been affected by the bird strike.
“Upon suspecting a bird strike, the pilot decided to return to Melbourne Airport in line with standard operating procedures and the aircraft landed safely at Melbourne Airport,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
The airline could not confirm the number of passengers affected, but assured they would be on their way to Brisbane as soon as possible.
“The safety of our guests and crew is always our highest priority and we apologise for any inconvenience caused by this matter.”
It’s not the first time a feathered friend has triggered an emergency landing and airport chaos.
Birds were sucked into the engine of AirAsia X Flight D7207 flight from the Gold Coast bound for Kuala Lumpur in July this year.
The flight returned to Brisbane after the plane began shaking shortly after take-off, according to passengers who also reportedly saw sparks coming from one of the Airbus engine mounts.
The Malaysian budget carrier said two birds were found on the runway.
There were 16,069 bird strikes reported to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau between 2006 and 2015, most of which involved domestic high-capacity aircraft.
Eleven of those strikes caused significant damage to the aircraft.