Aer Lingus coronavirus mercy flight returns to Dublin following bird-strike on take-off

An Aer Lingus mercy flight from Dublin to China, to collect essential supplies needed for the fight against Coronavirus here, was forced to return to the airport this afternoon after suffering a bird-strike on departure.

Flight EI-9018 had taken off from Dublin at around midday when the crew immediately issued a Pan-pan radio call alerting air traffic controllers to their problem. A Pan-pan call is not as serious as a May-Day distress message and is used when there is no immediate danger to the aircraft or those on board.

One of the flight’s pilots reported:

“Shamrock 9018, bird-strike on rotation. We’d like to climb straight ahead on runway heading.”

Air traffic controllers cleared the crew to continue on their heading and climb to 9,000 feet however the flight crew indicated they wished to level off at 3,000ft and were cleared to do so.

After levelling off, the crew requested clearance to turn and enter a holding pattern while they went through their checklists. The crew confirmed they had suffered a bird-strike in their ‘number 1’ (left) engine as they took off.

The crew also confirmed they wished to return to the airport and would ‘effectively’ be ‘single engine’ coming back and while they had no indication in the cockpit of fire in the engine they asked that emergency services be standing by as a precaution.

Back on the ground, airport crews carried out an inspection of the runway and confirmed that the carcass of a bird was found.

In the meantime, flight 9018 flew out over the Irish Sea for a time before doubling back and landing safely back at Dublin again. Airport fire and rescue crews were standing by for the jet when it landed without incident shortly after 12.30pm.

An Aer Lingus spokesperson said: “EI9018 has returned to Dublin following a bird strike. Upon landing in Dublin it will be assessed by engineers and upon its clearance for travel a new departure time will be ascertained.”