By Demion McTair. Updated 8:35 p.m., Sunday, June 6, 2021, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
Dead birds, appearing to be Seagulls were found on the runway of the Argyle International Airport after the aborted take-off of American Airlines flight AA1427 on Saturday, June 5.
Trusted sources made available photo evidence of the birds.
In addition to the photos is a video by Lawyer Jamalie John, appearing to show the moment the aircraft possibly came into close contact with Seagulls on the northern end of the runway.
In the photos obtained by One News SVG, the dead birds, some with their wings detached, were found scattered on the shoulders of the runway and on the runway itself.
The images are an additional set of pictorial files that show there was likely some impact made between the moving aircraft and birds on the runway.
There has been no official statement on the incident from American Airlines or the Argyle International Airport.
The findings, however, are likely to give credibility to the hypothesis that the sudden braking and aborted take-off was a precautionary measure taken by the pilots in relation to contact with birds.
Another hypothesis, as reported by News 784 is that the aborted take-off of the aircraft could have been caused by the presence of volcanic ash/dust on the runway.
In an article published on Sunday, June 6, 2021, News 784 reported that James Lynch, an aviation consultant and a former LIAT pilot with over thirty years of experience, told News784 that there could have been many reasons why the AA crew using the Boeing MAX 737 had to abort the takeoff.
“Based on footage obtained, I saw a lot of dust, back at the start of the takeoff roll. So one cause may be volcanic dust retarding the acceleration. It could have also been the same dust from when it landed. You could have seen it was not developing full thrust on the engines, ” News784 reported James as saying.
“If the engines ingested volcanic ash on arrival (look at the ash generated during the reverse thrust phase), it would have stuck to the turbine blades and the inside of the engine – including the burner “cans” at the back where the fuel burns,” News784 reported James as saying.
“Modifying the turbine blades is the same as too much ice on a wing; it changes the profile and therefore the aerodynamic properties” (less thrust),News784 reported James as saying.
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 on Saturday, June 5.
“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 while on the aircraft on Saturday, June 5.
One News SVG was informed that tires for the aircraft’s landing gear need to be replaced, as a result of the heavy braking during the aborted take-off.
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., on Saturday, June 5, 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.