Bird strike sends United Airlines flight back to Chicago

(CNN) – A bird strike sent a United Airlines flight into Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Friday shortly after takeoff, the airline said.

Flight 1930, a Boeing 737-900, was bound for Miami International Airport.

“The aircraft landed safely and passengers exited the gate,” United Airlines said in a statement. The airline did not provide details of possible damage to the plane.

“I knew something was wrong because there was fire under the wing, which was coming out with a bang, and it felt like the plane was kind of shaking,” Fiock told CNN.

“Since we were near the wing we could hear the thump of the engine and see the fire on our side. The lights were also flickering when it would come on. I hoped we could land safely. !”

Fiock said he didn’t realize a bird strike had caused the problem until the plane landed.

“The pilots did a great job getting us back safely, and I’m grateful to them and the crew,” he said.

Flight tracking site FlightAware shows that Flight 1930 took off at 10:47 a.m. local time and returned to O’Hare 42 minutes later.

A new plane has been assigned to the flight, the airline said, and it took off on Friday afternoon.

Engines are the most damaged component of US civil aircraft, accounting for about a quarter of all damaged aircraft components, according to the FAA.

The FAA says the number of wildlife strikes involving airplanes is on the rise.

Strikes have increased steadily from about 1,800 in 1990 to 16,000 in 2018, according to the FAA’s website.

“Expanding wildlife populations, increases in the number of aircraft movements, trends toward faster and quieter aircraft, and outreach to the aviation community have all contributed to the increase in observed wildlife strikes,” the FAA site says.

Image above: A United Airlines plane at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in February. (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images/File)