Shocking Photos: Commuter Plane Hits Bird, Prop Separates And Slashes Through Passenger Cabin

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An SA Airlink JetStream 41 on approach to South Africa diamond mining area Venetia Mine hit a large bird and shed one of its starboard-side propeller blades, causing the wood composite blade to penetrate the passenger cabin, after which it travelled through that space and impacted the opposite sidewall, coming to rest on the floor in front of one of the passenger seats. Miraculously, no one was killed or injured in the incident, and the plane landed safely. No word on what kind of bird got struck.

The British Aerospace Jetstream 41 is a 29-passenger twin-engine turboprop commuter plane that has been out of production since 1997—100 were delivered—but which is still used around the world for such regional flying. It was a development of the 19-passenger Jetstream 31, but by the time the 41 arrived on the scene, larger, faster and more capable regional jets from Canadair and Embraer had begun to dominate the market.

The photos were posted and reposted on Twitter, and many commenters were surprised to see that the prop was made of wood—but even today many propellers are made of composite material with a metal hub and wood core. While one might argue that had the prop been made of metal (aluminum with a steel hub), it might have survived the bird strike intact. On the other hand, if it had been lost and penetrated the cabin, there’s no telling what addition damage a metal prop might have done.


The flight had originated in Johannesburg. The airline said that there was “significant” damage to the plane, as is clear in the photographs.

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