Randy McIilwain, NBCDFW.com
DFW Airport has a wildlife management team to keep birds out of the path of aircraft.
An American Airlines flight departing DFW Airport hit a flock of birds Monday evening and immediately turned around for an emergency landing, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
The incident happened about 6:15 pm as flight 880 to Norfolk, Virginia, was taking off from DFW Airport, FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said.
The plane, an MD-80, received minor damage to the cone and right wing and was taken out of service for repairs, Lunsford said. The strike involved at least 20 birds.
“This number of birds is fairly unusual,” Lunsford said.
No one was was injured in the incident.
American Airlines spokesman Ed Martell said the pilot declared an emergency landing, which is routine procedure for this type of incident.
DFW Airport spokesman David Magana said birds are sometimes a problem at the airport, which sits on 29 square miles – an area bigger than the island of Manhattan.
The airport employs wildlife experts to try to disburse birds with noises and lights.
“We don’t want them to have a comfortable environment,” Magana said.
Birds pose a real danger to departing airplanes. In 2009, a flock of Canada geese hit a U.S. Airways flight, knocking out the engines and forcing the “Miracle on the Hudson” landing on the river in New York City, saving all 155 people on board.
An FAA database shows that between 1990 and 2010, planes hit wildlife more than 121,000 times.
Between 2006 and 2010, an average of 26 wildlife strikes were reported per day, most of which were birds.