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American Airlines plane engine catches fire, makes emergency landing in Ohio after bird strike

Bird strike forces emergency landing in Ohio
Bird strike forces emergency landing in Ohio 01:47

An American Airlines flight headed to Phoenix on Sunday morning was rerouted back to its departure airport in Columbus, Ohio, for an emergency landing after a bird strike reportedly caused the plane's engine to catch fire, officials said. 

No one was injured, and the plane landed safely at John Glenn Columbus International Airport after 8 a.m. local time, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement to CBS News. The agency is investigating the incident.

The plane, a Boeing 737 commercial jet, returned to the airport on Sunday about 30 minutes after its initial takeoff at around 7:45 a.m., according to the tracking site FlightAware. It was traveling to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and flying over Upper Arlington, another Ohio city roughly five miles outside of Columbus, when it started to turn back, CBS affiliate WBNS reported.

John Glenn International Airport acknowledged the incident on Twitter.

"Emergency crews responded to an aircraft incident at CMH this morning involving a reported engine fire," the airport wrote in a tweet. "The aircraft landed safely and the airport is open and operational."

Ryan Brink, who was on the flight, recorded a video through one of the plane windows that seemed to show sparks coming from the right engine. He posted the video to Facebook along with several photos of the plane, which appeared to have blood spattered across one side.

Ryan Brink

"Damn geese!" Brink captioned the post on Facebook. "First time seeing a fire and being involved in an emergency landing!"

Marni Kallestad, who was on the flight, told CBS News she was "extremely concerned when I saw the flames. They were shooting out pretty large at a certain point, and I started to think, 'we might not make this.'"

American Airlines did not provide details about what caused the emergency landing but attributed the incident to "a mechanical issue" in a statement to CBS News.

"The flight landed normally and taxied safely to the gate under its own power," the airline said. "The aircraft was taken out of service for maintenance and our team is working to get customers back on their way to PHX. Safety is our top priority and we thank our customers for their understanding."

Pilots reported more than 17,000 wildlife strikes in the U.S. last year, which is a fraction of the more than 36 million flights monitored by the FAA.   

Planes are designed to be able to fly with just one engine, CBS News aviation safety analyst Robert Sumwalt said.

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