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LAX-bound flight makes emergency landing after hitting birds

April 20, 2012 |  7:02 am

People were still talking Friday morning about that LAX-bound Delta Air Lines jet that had to make an emergency landing in New York after hitting a flock of birds shortly after takeoff.

Delta Flight 1063's pilots told air traffic controllers of an engine-related problem shortly after the plane took off from John F. Kennedy International Airport around 3 p.m. Thursday, FAA spokesman Jim Peters said.

"We lost our right engine due to the ingestion of birds," the pilot told the control tower, according to CNN.

"As a measure of caution, the pilot chose to turn around" and landed the Boeing 757 at JFK, Delta spokesman Anthony Black said. All 172 passengers and seven crew members were OK, he said.

Ali Velshi, CNN's chief business correspondent, was on the plane. He said he heard "a horrible grinding noise" after the plane took off. The aircraft started shaking, and smoke could be seen in the cockpit area, he said.

In a video posted to YouTube, passenger Grant Cardone said he was sitting in seat 1D when the engine was hit.

"That was the scariest thing I have ever done in my life," he said. "[The] plane shook; I thought we were coming down." I was literally calling my wife to say 'Hey, we could be freaking ... This might be my last flight.' I was that scared."

KTLA-TV spoke to some passengers once they finally made it to LAX.

"Feels good to have my feet planted on solid ground right now, for sure," Matt Kroll said. "The plane started to shake violently, and it sounded like something was grinding metal against something and getting all twisted. Then we smelled it. It was a combination of smoke and dead bird."

Another passenger KTLA spoke to by phone criticized the Delta crew, saying they didn't do a good job of keeping the passengers updated about what had happened."There was no P.A. announcement. Nobody was saying anything," Benjamin Sarshar said.

Bird strikes are relatively common and do not always damage jet engines, although large birds or flocks of birds can seriously harm planes and engines. Most famously, in 2009, a flock of geese damaged both engines on US Airways Flight 1549, forcing the crew to land the plane in New York's Hudson River. All 155 people on the plane survived.

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-- KTLA-TV

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