Sun, Sep 19, 2004
Once Endangered Bird In Mid-Air With AAL Flight
If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck and is ingested
in a commercial aircraft engine like a duck, then is it a duck?
In the case of an American Airlines McDonnell Douglas Super 80
departing Chicago (IL) last week, the answer was no. It was a
double-breasted cormorant. The bird was once close to extinction
(well, in fact, this particular bird IS extinct) and was, at one
time, on the federal list of endangered species.
So what's the difference between a duck and a cormorant?
"Our expert said that a cormorant is chunkier, meatier and has
more bones than a looser, watery bird," said American Airlines
spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan in an interview with the Chicago
Tribune. "Once ingested by the engine, it would have a harder time
getting through the fan blades of the turbine."
That's just what happened after the Super 80 (file photo of
type, below) departed O'Hare and was climbing through 3000 feet.
The crew reported running into a flock of... oh, whatever the hell
they were... and then felt the strike as the bird was ingested into
the aircraft's left engine.
Fortunately, the crew managed to set back down at O'Hare,
without any help from the number one engine. No one was hurt.
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