LONDON – On 13 October, the Canadian Transport Safety Board (TSB) reported on this month’s bird strike incident involving an Air Transat Airbus A330 departing Athens, Greece bound for Toronto, Canada.
On Saturday 8 October, the Air Transat Airbus A330-300, registered C-GTSD was operating as Flight TS697 out of Athens International Airport (ATH) on a regular scheduled flight to Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), when it struck a flock of birds during the initial climb out phase.
Air Transat Flight TS697
The bird strike forced the flight crew to terminate the climb at 7,000 feet and conduct a precautionary return to Athens Airport. The aircraft landed without further incident on RWY 03R, approximately 35 minutes after its initial departure.
Yesterday, the Canadian Transport Safety Board reported that the aircraft hit a flock of birds while accelerating through 100 KIAS during the take off.
Shortly after becoming airborne the crew noticed excessive vibrations on the Trent 772 equipped A330’s Number 2 engine, prompting the crew to return to Athens. The TSB stated that: “After inspection, maintenance found damage to both engines due to birds passing through engines’ core.”
No injuries were reported, and passengers were subsequently disembarked and flown from Athens on a flight with a replacement aircraft the following day.
It is understood that the A330 which was involved in the incident still remains at Athens Airport, 5 days after the bird strike incident.
A previous bird strike incident at Athens
The Air Transat A330 incident on 8 October was preceded by another bird strike out of Athens Airport the day prior. On 7 October, Aegean Airlines flight A34084 declared an emergency on departure from Athens Airport after experienced a bird strike after take-off.
The aircraft in question, an Airbus A321, was operating on a 30-minute short hop flight from Athens to the Greek island of Mykonos.
The aircraft squawked the transponder emergency code 7700 shortly after take-off and was given vectors for a return to RWY 03R, where it landed safely some minutes later.
Bird strikes are typically most likely to occur during the take off and landing phases of flight operations, as aircraft pass through lower altitudes which are most frequented by birds.
Airports generally conduct rigorous environmental evaluations and employ mitigation measures. Athens International Airport has reported in past years that warm and wet conditions over summer months has previously resulted in the development of high numbers of caterpillars, insects and snails which reached a peak in September and October.
This has acted as an attractant for high numbers of predatory birds like raptors to the airport surrounds. It is not known which bird species was involved in the recent bird strike incidents.