Massive Pink Bird Strike: Emirates Plane Lands Safely After Hitting 39 Flamingos in Mumbai

By Ivan PetrenkoMay 23, 2024 01:00 AMNews
White Emirates plane
White Emirates plane. Source: unsplash

An Emirates flight encountered a massive bird strike incident on Monday, colliding with a flock of flamingos upon approach to Mumbai International Airport. Despite the collision, the Boeing 777 landed safely, with no injuries reported among the 310 passengers on board.

Emirates 777 Hits Flock of Flamingos

The incident occurred as Emirates Flight EK508 was nearing its destination, approximately 6 km from Mumbai Airport, over the suburb of Ghatkopar. The aircraft, arriving from Dubai International Airport, touched down at around 21:30 local time. Emirates promptly reported the bird strike following the safe landing.

In a statement, Emirates confirmed the event:

"Emirates can confirm that EK508 from Dubai to Mumbai on 20 May was involved in a bird strike incident upon landing. The aircraft landed safely and all passengers and crew disembarked without injury, however sadly a number of flamingos were lost and Emirates is cooperating with the authorities on the matter."

Residents in the Ghatkopar area alerted authorities to the scattered flamingo carcasses. Forest Department officials began collecting the remains, with an estimated 39 birds found so far. These remains will be sent for autopsy to understand the full extent of the incident.

Aircraft Damage and Flight Cancellations

Emirates reported that the aircraft, a 777-300ER registered as A6-ENT, sustained damage, though the severity was not disclosed. Consequently, the return flight to Dubai was canceled, and passengers were provided with overnight accommodation. A replacement aircraft was arranged for their journey the following day. The affected Boeing 777-300ER, almost 10 years old, joined the Emirates fleet in August 2014.

Medium or Large Birds?

The bird strike involved flamingos, common visitors to Mumbai's wetlands from November to May. The species involved have not been confirmed, but both the Lesser Flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor) and Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) frequent the area. Lesser Flamingos weigh between 1.2 kg and 2.7 kg, categorizing them as medium-sized birds, while Greater Flamingos weigh between 2 kg and 4 kg, making them large birds.

Bird strikes pose significant risks, especially with flocks of medium or large birds. Engine testing ensures resilience against bird ingestion, but multiple bird strikes can still cause substantial damage. This incident is reminiscent of US Airways Flight 1549, which landed in the Hudson River after striking a flock of Canadian geese, larger birds weighing between 2.5 kg and 6.5 kg.

Environmental Disturbances

Environmental activists suggest that new power lines near Thane Creek Wildlife Sanctuary might have disoriented the birds, leading to their uncharacteristic flight path. Officials are investigating whether these disturbances caused the deviation.

Mumbai is also constructing a second airport, Navi Mumbai International Airport, set to open in phases starting in 2025. This project has faced opposition from environmentalists concerned about its impact on local wildlife.

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