Flight Returns to Westchester After Bird Strike

JetBlue flight 571 bound for West Palm Beach, Fla. left the runway at about 6:45 p.m. when a bird or birds struck the plane shortly after takeoff

A JetBlue flight departing from Westchester County Airport Tuesday evening made an emergency landing shortly after hitting birds upon takeoff, officials said.

JetBlue flight 571 bound for West Palm Beach in Florida left the runway at about 6:45 p.m. when two geese struck the plane windshield.

"The birds were flying across the runway at the time," said Jeremy Nielson, operations supervisor at the airport. "I think the pilot said at about 300 feet, they struck the birds."

The captain decided to return to the gate "out of an abundance of caution," a JetBlue spokesman said.

None of the 54 passengers and none of the crew members were injured.

A preliminary inspection revealed the bird strike didn't do much damage, but the passengers were taken off the plane as a precaution and put on another plane to continue their trip. That flight departed at about 8:30 p.m.

Nielson said bird strikes are relatively common at Westchester County Airport.

"We deal with them on a routine basis," said Nielson. "Most of the time, they're just an inconvenience."

On Thursday, a Los Angeles bound Delta flight made an emergency landing at Kennedy Airport after striking a bird.

In 2009, Capt. Chesley "Sully'' Sullenberger safely landed US Airways flight 1549 on the Hudson River after striking a flock of geese.    

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