Engine Damage From Flock Of Birds Leads To Delta 757 Diversion

**Update: 03/31/21 @ 15:14 UTC – Delta Air Lines provided additional information about the strike; details below.**

Yesterday, a Delta Air Lines Boeing 757-200 was carrying the Utah Jazz Basketball team from Salt Lake City, Utah to Memphis, Tennessee, when it suffered a bird strike. As a result, the aircraft returned back to its departing airport.

Delta Boeing 757
The aircraft was carrying VIPs on this Delta service. Photo: Getty Images

A quick return

According to The Aviation Herald, the 757 was conducting flight DL-8944. The plane left Salt Lake City International at 13:16 MDT. However, as it climbed out of runway 35, there was bird ingestion at the left-hand PW2037 engine.

The flight deck crew subsequently stopped the plane’s climb at approximately 8,000 feet and returned before returning to Salt Lake City. The aircraft then made a safe landing on runway 34L.

Radarbox Delta SLC 03.30.21
The Boeing 757’s flight duration was just 43 minutes before it landed back at Salt Lake City at 13:59 MDT. Photo: Radarbox.com

Photos from the ground show damage to registration N651DL following the hit. Additionally, fire crews were at the scene according to the below tweet. According to Planespotters.net, this unit is nearly 32 years old and first joined Delta back in July 1989.

Sensitive issues

Bird strikes may not be an everyday event for crews across the globe. Nonetheless, they can cause significant disruption and even damage when do occur. Overall, the FAA receives over 10,000 reports of bird and wildlife strikes every year.

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Crews have to make sure they take the right course of action following a strike. Moreover, airports also have to do their bit to try and prevent them from happening.

Virgin Atlantic Airbus A380 Training Captain Chris Pohl recently explained to Simple Flying that different birds can cause varying levels of damage to different aircraft. So, care needs to be taken following a strike.

“Bird strikes are not common, but again it depends on the size of the aircraft and the size of the bird. A goose is going to cause more damage than a sparrow,” the pilot told Simple Flying.

“I hit a large seagull at Glasgow a couple of years ago and it left a fist-sized dent in the leading edge of the wing. The same bird hitting a smaller aircraft would be much worse. Most airports have bird scaring equipment to avoid these encounters.”

The right steps

Altogether, due to the sensitive nature of bird strikes, the crew did the right thing to return. According to Radarbox.com, another flight with a different 757 went out the same day at 19:45 MDT to reach Memphis at 23:08 CDT.

Delta Boeing 757-300 Getty
Delta has a total of 127 757s within its fleet. Photo: Getty Images

Utah Jazz faces the Memphis Grizzlies tomorrow following a win against the Tenessee-based team on Sunday. Overall, everyone on board was safe and sound and the flight number reached its intended destination later that day.

Simple Flying reached out to Delta Air Lines for comment on this bird strike. A spokesperson shared that as a precautionary measure, the crew shut down the impacted engine, declared an emergency and returned to the airport. The aircraft landed safely and taxied to the gate under its own power.

What are your thoughts about this Delta Air Lines Boeing 757 returning to its departing airport due to a bird strike? Have you experienced anything similar on your flights over the years? Let us know what you think of the situation in the comment section.