PORTLAND -- A Southwest Airlines plane struck a bird upon departure from Portland International Airport Saturday afternoon, becoming the first time this year that a bird has damaged an aircraft at PDX.
Flight 3702 was departing for Oakland just before 12:30 p.m. when it hit the bird. The captain turned around as a precaution and taxied to the gate without being towed. None of the 136 passengers was injured, but the bird strike damaged the engine and possibly part of a wing.
According to PDX's website, the flight was rescheduled to depart at 6 p.m. Some passengers made other connections but nearly 100 of them will continue on to Oakland.
Southwest Airlines said the pilot made the right decision to turn the plane around.
“The safety of our customers, our employees, and our planes is #1 -- and we make our decisions based on that," said Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Katie McDonald.
Saturday's bird strike was the 65th such incident at PDX in 2011, but it was the first one of the year to cause damage to a plane. The damage to the aircraft isn't believed to be extensive.
In 2010, planes around PDX struck 58 birds, and only two of them damaged aircraft.
"Our wildlife staff work really hard to keep aircraft and birds separate," said Port of Portland spokesperson Kama Simonds.
The species of bird in Saturday's incident was not expected to be identified by a wildlife expert until at least Tuesday.