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In dealing with bird strikes, pilots have options

When a yellow-legged gull was sucked into the engine of flight BA419 on Tuesday, the pilot was able to safely abort take-off because he had not yet reached critical speed.

Eyewitnesses said the plane screeched to standstill before it reached Winston Churchill Avenue, leaving tyre marks on the newly-refurbished runway tarmac.

No one was hurt in the dramatic incident, but questions have since been raised about safety issues and bird strikes.

In fact, however, bird strikes are not uncommon, and planes can take off safely with just one engine if need be.

Trevor Hammond, General Manager of Air Traffic Control at Gibraltar Airport, told the Chronicle there were around five bird strikes a year in Gibraltar.

These can range from a bird merely touching the side of the plane to a full “ingestion” such as the one on Tuesday evening.

“In any bird strike incident the captain has certain options at certain times, but largely it is determined by the speed of the aircraft and where it happens,” Mr Hammond said.


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