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Chicago flight to Shanghai turns back after bird strike

By Emma Lacey-Bordeaux, CNN
updated 2:54 PM EDT, Sun October 6, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Flight to Shanghai returns safely to Chicago about half an hour after takeoff
  • The passengers and crew are unharmed
  • Mechanics are looking at the plane; passengers will take a different flight

(CNN) -- A flight from Chicago to Shanghai suffered an apparent bird strike after takeoff and landed safely back at Chicago's O'Hare Airport on Sunday.

American Airlines Flight 289 took off around 10:45 a.m. Shortly after, the crew reported a problem on board.

By 11:18 a.m. the plane was back on an O'Hare runway, according to a spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Aviation.

My-Linh Bui, American Airlines spokeswoman, said the problem was apparently a bird strike.

None of the 236 passengers or 15 crew members was injured.

Mechanics are looking at the plane, Bui said.

Passengers booked to Shanghai will depart on another flight.

Bird strike is the term used for incidents in which planes collide with birds. Often the creatures get sucked into a plane's engine. Considering how small they are compared to a plane, they can cause big problems.

The Federal Aviation Administration tracks these incidents. It says wildlife, both feathered and furry, has done billions of dollars in damage over the years.

In the past 12 months alone, O'Hare has reported 122 such wildlife strikes. Everything from a wood thrush to a barn swallow has tangled with airplanes there. Run-ins with a coyote and a cottontail were also reported.

Of those, only one resulted in any notable problem. In November a red-tailed hawk and a Nippon cargo plane, a 747, collided. Substantial damage resulted.

One of the most famous bird-plane encounters in recent years resulted in the "Miracle on the Hudson."

On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 left LaGuardia Airport and ran into a flock of geese that damaged both engines, forcing the crew to make an emergency landing in the frigid Hudson River.

Rescuers quickly reached the aircraft and found passengers standing on its wings. Everyone was rescued.

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