OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Pilots aboard a Southwest Airlines flight from Burbank told tower controllers at Oakland International Airport Monday that a bird strike while on final approach was “a little bit worse than we thought.”
No injuries were reported on jet and it landed safely, but not before the crew reported problems with its nose wheel steering area.
“We had a bird strike on final,” they told the tower. “It may have been a little bit worse than thought. We have difficulties steering the aircraft. So we are going to be shutting down your taxi way here, so. Heads up on that. We are going to try to arrange to get a tow and get somebody out here to take a look at this thing.”
FAA Pacific Division Public Affairs Manager Ian Gregor confirmed the possible bird strike to KPIX 5.
“Southwest Flight 390 from Burbank to Oakland reported a possible bird strike while landing,” Gregor said. “They thought the incident may have damaged the nose gear.”
According to the tower audio, the pilot reported a large flock of birds at 1,000 feet.
The flight — a Boeing 737-700 — had taken off from Burbank at 10:48 a.m. and landed at 11:36 a.m.
Helicopter video showed the jet being inspected by ground officials on a side runway. Workers were seen dumping absorbent onto the runway near the front landing gear.
Shortly after the incident, air traffic control operators begin warning other pilots flying over the Oakland Estuary to land at the airport to be on the lookout.
“Use caution. Company reported about 30 second ago several birds a thousand feet on final,” an air traffic controller could be heard saying in recordings from Monday morning. “Just use caution for the birds. Your company just hit a bird on final.”
The plane — followed by a fire truck — was the towed by a tug to the terminal where passengers were allowed off the flight.
Retired pilot Captain Dick Deeds told KPIX that while birds and planes do not mix, the location of the strike in the nose gear wasn’t a terrible location for the structure of the plane.
“It’s not a major problem, because your landing gear is good,” said Deeds. “You have differential problems. You have brakes. And you have some nose wheel steering.”
A USA Today report of FAA data shows more than 14,000 plane collisions with wildlife were reported last year in the U.S.
That averages out to more than 40 a day.