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Bird strike forces UA Dreamliner back to Sydney

July 5, 2016 Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59A United Airlines flight from Sydney to Los Angeles dumped fuel, turned back and made an emergency landing at Sydney Airport yesterday after apparently running into a flock of birds.

The plane was not in danger during the drama but Instagram footage of the fuel being jettisoned, taken by a passenger aboard, can be viewed here:

The passenger who posted the clip wrote: “Unbeknownst to me, we apparently hit birds during takeoff and flight crew spotted bird strike damage to the plane.

A United Airlines Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner

A United Airlines Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner

“United Airlines decided to turn back to Sydney & land. In the process, they also decided to make the plane lighter by dumping fuel. A tad unnerving to watch this out your window. All is fine, however, and that is most important!”

The flight was operated by a B787-900 Dreamliner, which was carrying 308 passengers and crew..

The bird strike occurred close to Sydney, with the flight, UA840, taking off at 9.40am and emergency services called to the international terminal about 10.50am to meet the flight, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The Aviation Herald, which records such incidents, reported that the United B787 was climbing out of Sydney’s runway 34L “when the crew reported they had flown through a flock of birds at about 1000 feet” and that a couple of birds had probably hit one of the aircraft’s GEnx engines.

The crew then asked the control tower to hold the climb at 5000 feet [about 1500 metres] so they could check all systems before continuing across the Pacific Ocean. After consulting dispatch, however, the captain decided to return to Sydney as a precaution, advising that the aircraft was “in normal operation”, the Aviation Herald said.

“Dispatch” would mean Sydney air traffic control and probably also United’s huge Network Operations Centre  (NOC), located in the Willis Tower, one of the world’s tallest buildings, in Chicago.

The aircraft then dumped fuel and returned to Sydney for a safe landing. The flight was cancelled and the Aviation Herald reported the plane was still there 18 hours later.

Passengers reported the captain said both engines had been hit by birds.

United Airlines issued a statement yesterday saying it was working to reaccommodate passengers on the next available flight and apologising “for any inconvenience this may have caused”.

Written by Peter Needham

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