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Philadelphia, PA - Israel Bound Plane Hits Bird, Returns Home Safely

Published on: June 30, 2014 07:35 PM
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Philadelphia, PA - What should have been a routine flight to Israel turned into a nail-biting round trip to nowhere, as a Tel Aviv bound airliner was struck by a bird during the first leg of the flight.

US Air flight 796 departed on time at 9:41 PM from Philadelphia International Airport last night but the 236 passengers aboard the full Airbus 330-200 never arrived at their intended destination, Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport.

Passenger Yitzy Halon of Baltimore said he had dozed off after the plane lifted off when he was awakened abruptly.

“I felt a big shake in the plane and it started to smell really bad,” Halon told VIN News. “There was smoke; it was very unsettling.  The captain came on board and said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I’m afraid we have bad news, we just hit a bird.’”


Liz Landau, a leadership communications manager at US Air, confirmed that the bird strike took place as the plane was ascending to cruising altitude and that the decision was made to return to Philadelphia “out of an abundance of caution.”  US Air did not comment on whether or not the plane sustained any damage in the incident.

According to Halon, at least half of the plane’s passengers hailed from the Orthodox Jewish community, with many single girls on their way to spend the summer in Israel.  Halon said the mood on the plane was initially fearful.

“There were people crying and screaming ‘Shema Yisroel’, there was definitely some sort of panic at first,” said Halon.  “Eventually we saw that they were taking care of the problem and the plane was flying normally without a lot of ups and downs and things settled down.”

Landau said that the plane circled for several hours to burn off fuel before it was ultimately canceled, finally landing safely at the airport it had departed from almost six hours earlier.

“Originally they told us that they had cleared a runway for us in Atlantic City but in the end we were diverted back to Philadelphia,” said Halon, who said that there were emergency vehicles everywhere when the plane touched down at 3:30 AM.

While Halon said that a policeman boarded the flight and told passengers that the bird strike was “an act of G-d” and that there would be no reimbursements, Landau said that meal vouchers and hotels were provided for those who needed them while other arrangements were made for travelers to get to their intended destination.

“Passengers were re-accommodated,” said Landau.  “Since departures start back up at 5 AM at the airport some of them did not need rooms.”

Halon returned home to Baltimore and hopes to be catching another flight to Israel.

“We are taking care of our customers and will get them to Tel Aviv,” reported Landau

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Read Comments (1)  —  Post Yours »


 Jun 30, 2014 at 08:36 PM Boeing is going, pilots say Says:

There is a reason pilots prefer Boeing. Airbus cheaps out and leaves no mechanism to dump fuel. This means an aircraft full of fuel might need to land but is over the safe landing weight and must burn fuel in the air.


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