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This was quite the eventful weekend for air travel in the Northeast. First, severe thunderstorms struck their lightning bolts for a few hours on Friday, delaying and diverting flights. This was immediately followed by a damaging fire at an FAA air traffic facility in New Jersey that caused airport, aircraft and ATC communication issues.
It only got worse on Saturday when a West Palm Beach-bound JetBlue flight had a bird strike on one engine and returned (safely) to Westchester County Airport. Finally, to cap off the weekend, an x-ray machine started smoking at the security check at one of the terminals of LaGuardia Airport, forcing the evacuation of all passengers for a few hours and further delaying and mixing up flights.
WHEW. Welcome to summer travel, eh?
Amidst all that breathless breaking news, the local broadcasting stations briefly glazed over what we thought was really the most intriguing story of allthat of a massive terror drill at JFK Airport.
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Ever since Flight 1549 unexpectedly found itself in the Hudson River thanks to some pesky geese, there has been much made about getting birds away from runways to avoid a similar situation. Suggestions have included sound makers, nets, and even plans to just fill in waterways in order to relocate flocks of feathers anywhere but near an airport. Now there’s another option that airports are thinking about...
The latest plan would involve New York City officials collecting unwanted airport birds—primarily Canada Geese—and shipping them off to Pennsylvania. Upon arrival in the Keystone State, the birds will be cooked and fed to those in need of a warm meal. Apparently the Department of Environmental Protection is all in favor of this plan, as they’re thinking utilizing the birds as food is probably better than just getting rid of them by tossing them into a landfill. We guess they’re right, but it still seems just a little odd.
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Up until today, our vocabulary remained free of the word "Snarge", but now that we know what it means, we are totally going to find ways to use it. This icky-sounding term is pretty damn icky for sure; it's what bird remains are called, but not just any bird remains; it's the leftovers of birds found in the engines of airliners that suffer bird strikes.
Even before "The Miracle on the Hudson" hit the water after bird strikes took out its engines, the danger of flocks living around New York City's airports was well documented. Now the issue is back, after the pilot of yesterday's Delta Flight 30, which blew an engine after taking off from JFK bound for Moscow, claims that a bird strike caused the failure. Notable extra fact: the flights had Leonardo DiCaprio onboard! As of now, no "snarge" has been found in the engine, but the NTSB isn't ruling out the possibility, although it's probably just that a compressor stalled and the engine malfunctioned.
[Photo of a different bird strike engine: AP/WSJ]
Yesterday morning, an eagle was sucked into one of the engines of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 bound from Sitka to Seattle, causing the airplane to abort take off and its engines to automatically shut down. All 134 passengers and 5 crew onboard were unhurt, and continued to Seattle eventually, onboard a different airplane.
The Alaska flight was able to stop before reaching the end of the runway, which is fortunate since the end of the runway was water, and heaven knows we don't need another water landing.
We thought since Frontier Airlines loved animals—they’ve got all those critters painted on their tail fins—they would be the last ones to have a bird encounter. However, that’s not the case, as a flight headed to Denver over the weekend had to make an emergency landing in Kansas City after running into a flock of feathered friends on takeoff.
People are sick and tired of birds screwing things up not only at New York-LaGuardia, but also at the Eugene, Oregon airport, and they are going to do something about it. Instead of nets or supersonic noisemakers, airport officials are evicting the foul fowl. After all, it’s the airport’s land now, so if you don’t pay the rent you’re out at the end of the month.
The airport is considering filling in a couple of ponds around the runways. The thought is, that without a place to call home, the troublemaker birds will pack up and get the hell out of town. They can’t just call the local dirt dude though, they are requesting permission from the US Army Corps of Engineers and the State Department of Lands—who knew you had to get so much permission?