Air passengers were reminded of the very real risk of bird strikes when an enormous black vulture struck the nose of an Airbus A350 yesterday afternoon.
The impact happened a minute and a half before landing, but the pilots were able to land the aircraft without any problems.
Pictures tweeted by Spanish air traffic control show a sizeable gouge in the plane’s nose-cone, where the radar is located.
“Bird strike from an A350 this noon on Madrid Track 32L decks. A black vulture, one of the largest and heaviest birds in Europe,” tweeted Spain’s official ATC account, @Controladores.
“The flight has landed safely. The track has been checked and information is transmitted to the rest of the traffic in sequence. #SafetyFirst”
“Bird strike: a very real threat in aviation,” added the account in a follow-up tweet.
But not all birds are equal - black vultures (aegypius monachus) can weigh up to 12 kilograms, and have an average wingspan of 2.5 metres.
Two weeks ago a Ryanair flight which had taken off from Manchester Airport was forced to make an emergency landing in Liverpool seven minutes into its journey when a bird hit the engine, making a noise that “sounded more like a motorboat or a propeller engine”, according to one passenger.
Last November, passengers onboard a Boeing 737 flying through Kazakhstan were alarmed when the plane flew into a flock of birds, with some travellers filmed exclaiming, “Are we on fire?”
Research by the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) shows that around 61 per cent of bird strikes occur during a flight’s landing, 36 per cent happen during take off, and just 3 per cent occur as the plane is cruising at altitude.
A spokesman for Iberia Airlines told EuroWeeklyNews that there had been no shaking in the cabin after the impact, and that it was only noticed by cabin crew.
The Independent has contacted Iberia for further comment.
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