Birdstrike Causes Engine Fire On Spirit Airlines Aircraft

A Spirit Airlines Airbus A320neo had to abort its takeoff from Atlantic City yesterday after experiencing a bird strike. This avian ingestion caused an engine fire on the Fort Lauderdale-bound aircraft, prompting an evacuation. Let’s see how it panned out.

There were more than 100 passengers onboard the affected plane. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

The flight in question

Spirit Airlines flight NK3044 is a regular scheduled service that originates at Atlantic City International (ACY) in New Jersey. The budget carrier operates almost all of ACY’s flights, with the only exception being Regional Sky to Pennsylvania’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International (AVP). Spirit operates both year-round and seasonal flights from ACY.

Flight NK3044 serves one of Spirit’s year-round destinations from Atlantic City, namely Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International (FLL) in Florida. In fact, this was Atlantic City’s busiest domestic route for the last financial year. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Spirit carried around 56,000 passengers on this route during this period.

Data from RadarBox.com shows that, on most days, Spirit Airlines flight NK3044 is scheduled to depart Atlantic City at 17:36 local time. Its arrival in Fort Lauderdale is timed to take place at 20:17, giving a planned duration of two hours and 41 minutes. However, yesterday’s iteration didn’t go to plan, with the flight not managing to leave New Jersey.

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What happened?

The reason that Spirit Airlines flight NK3044 was unable to leave Atlantic City yesterday evening was due to a bird strike that it experienced during takeoff. According to Ocean County Scanner News, the incident occurred at approximately 17:47 local time. The strike resulted in a fire in the Airbus A320neo’s right-hand Pratt & Whitney PW1127G-JM turbofan.

Following the bird strike, the crew was thankfully able to bring the aircraft to a safe stop on the runway. An evacuation then followed, whereby two people suffered minor injuries. According to 6ABC, the flight had 102 passengers and seven crew members onboard. Spirit Airlines issued the following statement in response to the incident:

“Spirit flight 3044 from ACY to FLL encountered what is believed to be a large bird while accelerating for takeoff in Atlantic City, which entered one of the plane’s engines. The captain braked safely and brought the plane to a stop, received an indication of damage to the engine, and ordered an evacuation in accordance with our standard procedures.”

Spirit Airlines Airbus A320neo
The aircraft involved was one of 43 A320neos operated by Spirit. Photo: Tomás Del Coro via Flickr

In terms of the next steps for the delayed passengers, Spirit added that:

“All Guests and Team Members evacuated the aircraft and were bussed back to the terminal. We commend our crew for handling the situation swiftly and safely. Our Guests will receive full refunds, a future travel voucher, and the option of traveling to Fort Lauderdale on another plane [yesterday evening].”

The aircraft involved

The plane that experienced the bird strike in Atlantic City was an Airbus A320neo registered as N922NK. According to data from ch-aviation.com, this 182-seat aircraft is 1.8 years old, having joined Spirit in December 2019. It is one of 43 A320neos at the ultra-low-cost airline, which also has a further 67 A320neos, 35 A319neos, and 20 A321neos on order.

What do you make of this incident? Have you ever experienced an aborted takeoff due to a bird strike? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.