Delta Bird Strike Leads To Emergency Landing And 4.5 Hour Delay

A Delta Air Lines Airbus A319 was forced to make an emergency landing after hitting one, if not two, birds on departure from Tampa this weekend. Sunday’s morning flight to Raleigh Durham had to return to the airport, with passengers delayed for more than four hours as a replacement aircraft was dispatched.

Delta A319
Delta’s A319 hit a bird, or possibly two, forcing an emergency landing. Photo: Getty Images

Delta A319 eats a bird for breakfast

The Delta Air Lines flight DL 2084 is a daily service between Tampa (TPA) and Raleigh-Durham (RDU). Flown by an Airbus A319, the trip usually takes around an hour and 20 minutes to complete. But for passengers on the service yesterday, the journey took a little bit longer than expected.

The Airbus A319, registered N318NB, took off from Tampa as expected, departing on schedule at just after 11:20 in the morning. However, the Airbus struck a bird on takeoff, damaging the engine. The aircraft’s crew declared an emergency, and returned immediately to the airport.

It touched back down at approximately 11:42, around 20 minutes after taking off, with all passengers and crew safe and sound. The damage to the engine appears to have been significant, as the aircraft could not complete its operation. Local media outlets are reporting that the engine may have ingested as many as two birds.

Delta Bird Strike Leads To Emergency Landing And 4.5 Hour Delay
The plane landed back at Tampa 20 minutes later. Image: FlightRadar24.com

A replacement A319 was dispatched to pick up Delta’s passengers. N315NB arrived in Tampa after lunch, and took off with the stranded travelers at 15:52. It landed safely in Raleigh-Durham at 17:24, making a delay of around four and a half hours for its passengers.

N318NB has been on the ground since the incident. However, it is on the schedule to leave later today, under flight number DL9960. Delta uses this flight number mainly for ferry flights, when it is taking aircraft to storage or for maintenance checks. The destination loaded into the system is Atlanta, so it seems the A319 is headed to Delta’s primary hub, also home to Delta TechOps, to get its engine looked at and, hopefully, fixed.

Delta A319
A replacement A319 was dispatched to complete the service. Photo: Delta

Will the plane be repaired?

Delta has a fleet of 57 Airbus A319, with an average age of 19 years. N318NB is one of the older models, having been delivered from Airbus in 2000. These planes were inherited from Delta’s merger with Northwest Airlines in 2008, and despite their age, Delta has not firmed up any plan to retire the type anytime soon.

Northwest A319
Delta’s A319s came from its merger with Northwest. Photo: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt via Wikimedia

In the post-COVID environment, the A319 is going to be a key asset for the airline. Its small size and relatively low operating costs make it a great aircraft for small city hops, something which Delta is keenly aware of, and likely what has saved it from being phased out. With the McDonnell Douglas ‘Mad Dogs’ all gone, as well as the Embraer Regional Jets, the A319 is a key small aircraft for Delta for the short term future at least.

However, data from PLanespotters.net shows that Delta still has 15 of its 57 A319s parked up. Depending on the status of these airframes, the airline could choose to bring back a parked model rather than undertaking the expensive repair of this damaged engine. For the time being, we’ll have to wait and see if N318NB makes it back into the fleet any time soon.

Were you on this flight? Let us know what you experienced in the comments.

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