Virgin Australia Flight Hits a Bird and a Rabbit — At the Same Time

Oct 21, 2017

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We already know that 1 in 2,000 flights are impacted by a birdstrike, but what would be the odds of a simultaneous bird and rabbit strike? We’re guessing pretty slim. But, that’s reportedly what happened Friday to a Virgin Australia flight.

According to a report from The Aviation Herald — an excellent source for aviation incident and accident news — here’s what happened: Virgin Australia flight 319 departed Melbourne (MEL) for Brisbane (BNE) and was on its initial climb when the aircraft made contact with an object. Due to vibrations in the left hand engine, the flight crew declared “pan-pan” — a step below declaring an emergency — and leveled off at 5,000 feet.

The crew then advised that “an eagle carrying a rabbit had just impacted their #1 engine.”

According to FlightRadar24 flight track, the aircraft was directly over the Lerderderg State Park, which is known for its wedge-tailed eagles, the largest bird of prey in Australia. These eagles — locally referred to as a bunjil or eaglehawk — primarily feed on rabbits and hares, although recent studies show that the bird might prefer eastern grey kangaroos instead.

VA319 bridstrike

The flight crew requested priority landing back in Melbourne (MEL) and the plane landed safely 17 minutes after departure. The flight was subsequently cancelled. The Boeing 737-800 aircraft (registration VH-YFX) hasn’t returned to service in the time since landing.

With all passengers safe, the jokes began to roll in. One AvHerald commenter speculated the “eagle wanted the rabbit minced, but must have miscalculated.” Another commenter suggested the experience was “a hare raising experience for the crew.”

A request for confirmation or comment from Virgin Australia wasn’t immediately returned.

Featured image by Auscape via Getty Images

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