While bird strikes happen fairly regularly, a Southwest Airlines jet encountered a pretty bad one yesterday while departing Cuba, as reported by The Aviation Herald.
In this post:
Southwest 737 departing Havana suffers bird strike
This incident involves a brand new Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 with the registration code N8792Q. The plane was scheduled to operate the short 255-mile flight WN3923 from Havana (HAV) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL).
The aircraft took off from runway 6 as scheduled. Shortly after departure, the jet suffered bird strikes to both the right engine and the nose. Passengers reported hearing three loud bangs, and then flames came out of the right engine. At this point smoke developed in the cabin, and the pilots made the decision to immediately divert back to Havana.
The plane landed there safely just minutes after taking off. After vacating the runway, the aircraft stopped on the taxiway, and passengers were evacuated via the slides on the left side of the aircraft. Furthermore, the airport firefighters sprayed the right engine to prevent a fire.
As you’d expect, the flight was canceled, and the aircraft remains on the ground in Havana. Below you can see some video footage from inside the cabin following the bird strike.
A few thoughts on this bird strike incident
Given the number of planes in the skies, bird strikes aren’t that uncommon. This one was a bit worse than normal in the sense that it would appear there were multiple bird strikes, to both the nose and engine. Furthermore, in this case smoke filled the cabin, which is obviously terrifying for passengers.
In fairness, I suspect this was more a situation that felt really dangerous, rather than one that actually was. Obviously smoke on a plane is scary, but that was likely just due to how the air was being filtered in the cabin, given what was going on with the engine.
What I find strange about the footage from inside the cabin is how the oxygen masks seem to have deployed in some rows, but not others. Did some passengers force open the consoles with the oxygen masks, did the crews for some reason just deploy them in certain rows, or was there a glitch?
Fortunately everyone managed to evacuate the aircraft safely, so this situation amounted to an inconvenience for passengers, and an extra maintenance bill and logistical challenge for Southwest.
Speaking of logistics, I’m curious how complicated this fix is going to be. Given the embargo in place between the United States and Cuba, does Southwest have a practical way to get the needed aircraft parts to Cuba, so that the plane can be fixed and flown back to the United States?
A Southwest Boeing 737 suffered some nasty bird strikes while departing Havana yesterday. The aircraft’s nose and right engine were hit by multiple birds, causing an engine fire, along with smoke in the cabin. Fortunately the crew got everyone on the ground safely.
Now Southwest has the challenging task of fixing this plane, given that importing aircraft parts into Cuba isn’t exactly easy (unless I’m missing something).
What do you make of this Southwest bird strike and smoke incident?