Bird strike forces JetBlue flight back to New York airport

NEW YORK Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:14am EDT

A JetBlue Airways plane awaits take off while at LaGuardia Airport in New York April 5, 2012. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

A JetBlue Airways plane awaits take off while at LaGuardia Airport in New York April 5, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A bird strike forced a JetBlue flight bound for Florida to make an emergency return to Westchester Airport, the airline said on Wednesday, the second such incident at a New York area airport in less than two weeks.

Flight 571, scheduled for a 6:45 p.m. EDT Tuesday departure from the West Harrison, New York airport for West Palm Beach, encountered the birds shortly after takeoff, according to a JetBlue statement.

"Out of an abundance of caution for the safety of the passengers and crew onboard, the captain elected to return to the gate," the JetBlue statement said.

None of the 54 customers or 4 crew members aboard the Embraer 190 aircraft was injured, the airline said.

The flight landed safely and the passengers were reboarded onto another aircraft that departed for West Palm Beach at 8:25 p.m., arriving in West Palm Beach at about midnight, the airline said.

JetBlue did not confirm how many or what kind of birds were involved. Westchester Airport spokesmen were not immediately available for comment.

Last week, a bird strike shortly after takeoff forced a Delta Air Lines flight to make an emergency return to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

According to the FAA's website, wildlife strikes are not uncommon, with an average of 26 strikes a day in recent years.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Vicki Allen)

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