UPDATED: Passengers on a Norwegian Air flight between Trondheim and Bergen had a lucky escape after their plane collided with a swan five minutes after take-off. The swan tore a hole in the plane’s wing, forcing an emergency landing back at Trondheim’s Værnes airport. A fighter pilot also escaped unharmed after crash landing at Bodø airport.
Initially the crew thought a large bird, probably an eagle, had been caught in the plane’s engine. But on closer inspection upon landing, ground staff found the swan caught in the wing, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).
“I can not remember ever having experienced this in my time in aviation,” said Værnes airport manager Per Jarle Ingstad. “It’s probably a frightening experience for passengers. It’s something we want to avoid, but as long as birds and planes both travel in the air that’s not possible.”
Passengers reported hearing a loud bang, and some saw a big puff of feathers. Several told NRK they weren’t scared because the flight attendants remained so calm, and only realized how serious it could have been when they saw ambulances on standby after the emergency landing.
While “birdstrikes” aren’t uncommon, the head of the Aircraft Technician Organization (Norsk Flytekniker Organisasjon, NFO) said he’d never heard of a bird ripping a hole in a plane’s wing. “A bird that weighs between five and 10 kilograms and hits a plane at high speed will cause major damage,” Roger Handeland told NRK. “It can quickly become very serious, and the pilot can have problems steering the plane.”
Norwegian Air’s head of information, Charlotte Holmbergh Jacobsson said the 104 passengers were put on a new flight to Bergen. “We have birdstrikes from time to time,” she said. “I wouldn’t say that they’re common, but they do happen. The safety procedure is that the plane will always turn back when this occurs.”
F16 crash lands
Meanwhile at Bodø airport, an F16 fighter jet has been badly damaged during a routine training exercise. The jet was one of four practicing “touch and go” landings in the military section of the airport, when it appears its nose wheel got tangled in wire upon landing.
“It’s a wire which lies on the runway as a security if a fighter plane doesn’t manage to stop its own machine,” said Ivar Moen, a defense press officer. “The wire lies there permanently, but basically had nothing to do with this landing. The plane should only land and take off, but it seems like the plane has come down on the wire one way or another.”
The pilot escaped unharmed. It’s one of several near misses for Norway’s F16s over the past decade. In 2012 two planes almost collided while performing military exercises over northern Norway. In 2010 five planes came within 30 to 40 metres of each other, flying through a narrow fjord. In 2001 a fighter pilot had to eject from his plane just outside Bodø after a seagull was sucked into its engine.