Plane collides with flock of birds, makes emergency landing


A plane that struck a small flock of birds made an emergency landing at T.F. Green in Warwick Wednesday afternoon.

American Eagle flight 5396, which was being operated by PSA Airlines, collided with several horned larks on during takeoff around 12:45 p.m., a spokesman for the airport told NBC 10 News.

The flight was headed for Reagan National Airport in Virginia but returned to Warwick as a precaution.

The spokesman said the plane landed safely, adding that a maintenance team is inspecting the aircraft.

It is unclear how many passengers were on board, but the airline accommodated them by placing them on other flights.

Planes at T.F. Green have struck animals at least 51 times since 2015, according to Federal Aviation Administration data. Most of the animals listed were birds.

In 2014, an NBC 10 I-Team investigation revealed that the airport killed 3,300 animals from 2009 to 2014 to prevent wildlife strikes and protect the safety of passengers, with more than 3,200 of them being birds. Other animals included 62 skunks, 21 squirrels, and 18 coyotes.

More than 130,000 animals were moved off airport property rather than killed. Airport officials use noise cannons and fireworks to relocate wildlife.

"They fire deceased birds, chicken, and turkeys into a plane engine in order to test the effect that it will have on the components of the engine," Arianna Mouradjian of the Wildlife Rehabilitators Association of Rhode Island told NBC 10 News, adding the bird strikes pose the same concern as turbulence.

Biologist Jim Bender said the goal is to humanely move animals.

"The threat is, that either a bird or a mammal is going to cause damage to the aircraft, putting people's lives, human health and safety, and a lot of money, in danger," he said.

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