A PACKED Japan Airlines plane bound for New York narrowly avoided disaster this morning after hitting a bird shortly after take-off.
Shocking images showed the left engine engulfed in flames as the plane left the runway.
JAL said the Boeing 777 carrying 233 passengers and 15 crewmembers requested an emergency landing minutes after takeoff from Haneda International Airport on Tuesday.
The plane returned safely to a Tokyo airport today after the pilot reported a bird strike to an engine during takeoff.
A JAL spokesman said: “It seems that a bird got sucked into the left engine when taking off.”
He added that the “plane discarded fuel in the air” to reduce weight ahead of landing.
The plane returned to the airport about an hour after takeoff and no injuries were reported.
JAL said it will inspect the engine.
Haneda has the worst record for bird strikes in Japan last year at 182 cases, followed by Osaka, with 73 case and Narita’s 57, though not all of them affected flight operations, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.
It is understood that some grass next to the runway caught fire but was soon extinguished.
British Airline Pilots Association flight safety specialist, Stephen Landells told The Telegraph: “Aircraft are designed and built to withstand bird strikes and pilots undergo rigorous training to enable them to deal with eventualities like a bird strike.”
The most notable example of a bird strike was 2009’s US Airways Flight 1549 when the pilot safely landed a passenger plane on the Hudson River.
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