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United flight bound for Miami strikes bird, returns to Chicago

Flight arrives Thursday afternoon in Miami

MIAMI – A United Airlines flight bound for Miami struck a bird Thursday morning, forcing the pilot to return to Chicago-O'Hare International Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.

Passengers who arrived at Miami International Airport told Local 10 News reporter Liane Morejon that the incident happened just after the plane took off. 

"When I heard the boom, I looked over and I saw the flames coming out, and it looked like it scorched like the side of the plane," Carol Pennix said. 

According to the FAA, pilots onboard United Airlines flight 1738, a Boeing 737, reported a bird strike on the aircraft's number 2 engine.

"It's a flock of geese. We'll get right back to you," the pilot told air traffic control. 

United Airlines spokeswoman Erin Benson said the pilots shut down the affected engine after reporting the strike.

A video posted to Twitter by a passenger shows bursts of fire coming from the engine.

"We circled back. Eventually, they did come on the air and said, 'Listen, it was a bird strike,' (and they) shut down the engine," passenger Bill Elyea said.

The Chicago Aviation Department said the plane departed about 7:45 a.m. and reported the engine issue after takeoff. The plane safely landed at 8:24 a.m.

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The airline switched planes and the flight departed Chicago again at 10:40 a.m.

United Airlines officials said 174 customers were onboard the plane as well as six crew members.

Benson said the airline will contact customers "to compensate them for the inconvenience."


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