By Demion McTair. Updated 4:16 p.m., Saturday, June 5, 2021, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
American Airlines (AA) flight AA1427 had to make a last-minute ditch of its attempt to take-off on Saturday afternoon (June 5, 2021) at the Argyle International Airport (AIA).
Sources have told One News SVG that the presence of birds on the runway at the time of take-off is the cause of the delay.
The flight was set to take-off from Argyle International Airport (AIA) at around 3:55 p.m. in St. Vincent and was bound for Miami International Airport in the U.S State of Florida.
“I’m at Argyle on AA about to take off for Miami when the plane came into contact with a flock of birds (seagulls). The pilot had to brake so hard that the tires smoked,” a passenger on the flight told One News SVG.
“Thank God we did not lift off.
Maintenance is checking the engines, and brakes. Have to wait for the brakes to cool down,” the passenger told One News SVG.
Up to press time, passengers were disembarking the plane.
The plane has a capacity of about 150 passengers, One News SVG was informed, but it is not clear how many were on board on Saturday’s flight.
Efforts to reach the Airport’s administration were futile, but, in a call directly to the Airport at 4:19 p.m., One News SVG was told that “the flight has not yet departed”. No further comment was given.
It is the first time that such an incident has been reported at the Argyle International Airport which was opened in February 2017.
Though there have been no previous reports of bird strikes at AIA, they are not new threats to planes taking off and landing.
According to the U.S Federal Aviation Administration, “there have been about 227,005 wildlife strikes with civil aircraft in USA” alone “between 1990 and 2019 (about 17,228 strikes at 753 U.S. airports in 2019). An additional 4,275 strikes have been reported by U.S. Air Carriers at foreign airports, 1990-2019”.
“About 61% of bird strikes with civil aircraft occur during landing phases of flight (descent, approach and landing roll); 36% occur during the take-off run and climb; and the remainder (3%) occur during the en-route phase,” the U.S Federal Aviation Administration says on its website.
Incidences of birds at or near airports, affecting or potentially affecting the operation of planes in the Caribbean are not novel.
For instance, in 2012, Stabroek News, citing the Trinidad Express, reported in 2012 that “an illegal dump and nearby crops created a “bird hazard” for airplanes leaving the Piarco International Airport on two consecutive days over the Easter weekend”.
As recent as 2018, Loop News reported that A Caribbean Airlines (CAL) flight bound for New York was forced to turn around and return to Trinidad following a bird strike.