CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Airport officials confirmed to Channel 9 that a plane had to return to Charlotte Douglas International shortly after takeoff because of a reported bird strike early Friday morning.
The incident happened around 9:30 a.m. as Delta flight 1591, which was heading to Atlanta, was taking off from the airport.
A Delta Airlines spokesperson told Channel 9 that the crew onboard the MD-88 aircraft called in the alert after encountering a bird shortly after departure, and the plane was able to land safely around 9:45 a.m. before it taxied to the gate.
"We just hit a flock of birds passing through 1,000 feet. Looks like everything is still functioning here but wanted to let you know," the pilot said to the control tower.
The control tower asked if the pilot needed to turn around and land. At first, the pilot said no.
"No, right now everything is functioning fine. We're going to take it into Atlanta and let them look at it. It looked like sparrows," the pilot said.
But eventually the pilot decided to come back and do a runway inspection on the tarmac.
The 122 passengers onboard were being placed on alternate flights. Nobody on the flight was hurt and the FAA is investigating.
Channel 9 Skyzoom flew over the plane after it landed and could see mechanics examining the right rear engine of the aircraft.
The incident is a reminder of the dangers of wildlife near airports. The bird strike happened after a week after a plane hit a deer on takeoff in Charlotte.
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