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Cebu Pacific plane grounded by 'bird strike' in Tacloban

February 13, 2009 9:00pm

MANILA, Philippines – A “bird strike" caused engine trouble for a passenger airplane of Cebu Pacific Air at an airport in the central Philippines on Friday, a report on GMA’s "24 Oras" news program said.

Reporter Lei Alvis quoted airport officials as saying that Cebu Pacific flight 5J651 was landing at the airport in Tacloban City in Leyte early morning of Friday when a bird got sucked into one of its engines, breaking the three blades inside.

The aircraft managed to land safely, but its return flight to Manila was cancelled, forcing passengers to take alternative flights later in the day.

"A Cebu Pacific flight from Manila had a bird strike as it approached Tacloban airport this morning. The plane landed normally and will undergo servicing and maintenance," a statement released by the airline read.

The report said it was the first bird strike incident in Tacloban.

Tacloban has a standing ordinance prohibiting the raising of birds within a 4-kilometer radius from the airport.

Last month in New York City, a US Airways jetliner crashed into the Hudson River after a flock of birds appeared and disabled both its engines.

Rescuers, however, were able to pull out the more than 150 passengers and crew members into boats before the plane sank.

The Tacloban incident prompted airport authorities to beef up its bird reduction teams, particularly at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

In a previous report, the NAIA assistant general manager for security and emergency services, Angel Atutubo, said the airport is equipped with pyrotechnics that emulate the sound of gunfire and audio dispersal equipment that drive away migratory birds that usually flock to the area in the cold season.

Atutubo said his staff could also use air rifles whenever the birds pose a direct threat to airplane security.

Aside from regularly patrolling the NAIA airways for the presence of migratory birds, NAIA authorities also appealed to nearby residents not to take care of doves around the area because they may also pose security risks despite being small, Atutubo said. - GMANews.TV