Bird strike destroys plane propeller but pilot continues to fly for an hour to destination on one engine
By Carol Driver for MailOnline
Passengers were left terrified after a plane lost one of its propellers in a bird strike but continued with the rest of the hour-long flight on just one engine. The Flybe service had just taken off from Guernsey for Birmingham when startled travellers heard a loud bang on the left side of the aircraft. They looked out and saw the front cone of the prop had been smashed and the remains of a bird could be seen on the jagged edge.
But to their alarm, the captain announced that instead of turning round, the 78-seat Bombadier Dash-8 would carry on with the single remaining engine. Airport worker Dan Brehaut, 23, travelling with his girlfriend Joanne Corlett, 25, said he was shocked the crew didn't declare an emergency and land. Dan, an aircraft despatcher from Guernsey, who also filmed the incident on his mobile phone, said: 'It is very unusual for an engine to shut down. 'It's not unheard of – I have heard stories about it – but I have never seen an aircraft sustain that amount of damage to it and carry on.
'Usually planes will land with a problem over the smallest of things, so it just seemed so unusual. 'When that bit of the prop came off, it could have very easily gone into the engine, and that would be the engine on fire. 'It could have hit the elevator – that's the bit that pitches the aircraft to climb or descend – if you don't have that, the plane crashes. 'Of course, there is nothing that anyone could do about hitting a bird, but I was just more concerned they carried on regardless. 'They took quite a while to shut the engine down – maybe 20 minutes into the flight – and then to carry on flying for the rest of the flight with just one engine. 'If something happened to that one engine, the plane would have just dropped out of the sky.
They would have had to put the remaining engine on max thrust and it is not supposed to be at full speed for the whole flight. 'It was very unusual for them to carry on. I can only assume it was a case of the pilots wanted to be at home in Birmingham for the night.' Dan and Joanne were travelling to a family party on the 10.30am flight last Saturday when the drama happened. They heard a 'loud bang' shortly after take-off and a cabin assistant reported the damage to the flightdeck.
Dan said: 'She went and reported it back to the flight crew on the phone at the front of the cabin, and I got my phone out and started filming the prop through the window. 'I could see a bird's claw was hanging off the prop. 'There was a PA announcement from the first officer I think saying that as a precaution they were going to shut the engine down as it was wobbling a lot.
'The aircraft was also vibrating more than normal, but they said they were going to continue all the way to Birmingham. 'I immediately thought that was unusual. There had been talk of diverting to Exeter. 'When we got too Birmingham they had declared a full emergency. There was eight fire engines and I think four operational vehicles.'
Dan claimed that he and another passenger were warned not to photograph the damage when they exited the plane. He added: 'The cheek of it. We'd just had to sit on that plane.'
The incident was reported to the Civil Aviation Authority who record all 'birdstrikes'. A CAA spokesman said: 'We have received a Mandatory Occurrence Report (MOR) from Flybe relating to a birdstrike, which occurred during a flight on November 8th. 'The aircraft landed safely at Birmingham Airport, with no injury to any passengers or crew.'
Captain Ian Baston, Flybe's Director of Flight Operations and Safety, said: 'Flybe can confirm that flight BE502 from Guernsey to Birmingham experienced a bird strike during Saturday's flight. 'The aircraft continued it journey safely to Birmingham International Airport and was met by emergency services as a routine and precautionary measure only. 'Once at its stand all passengers disembarked normally.
'Flybe operates its fleet of aircraft in strict compliance with all manufacturers guidelines. 'The safety of its passengers and crew is Flybe's highest priority.' 'Shortly after one of the pilots came back and had a look out and then returned to the cockpit.