Bird strikes less than a half hour apart caused turbulence for two United Airlines flights out of Houston, Texas, forcing both planes to make emergency landings, officials said.
The first incident occurred around 8:50 pm local time Tuesday, when an object struck the right wing of a plane traveling to Santiago, Chile, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirmed to the Daily News. The second incident happened around 9:10 pm on a flight traveling to Las Vegas, Nevada according to the FAA.
Both planes “returned safely” to Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, and both incidents are being investigated by the FAA.
United also confirmed the incidents, attributing both to bird strikes. No injures were reported.
“Two separate flights departing George Bush Intercontinental Airport returned to the airport due to bird strikes,” a United representative said in a statement to the Daily News. “Both flights landed safely, and we re-accommodated our customers on other aircraft.”
There have been nearly 2,000 bird strikes this year, with 85% of the incidents involving commercial planes, according to CNN. The emergency landings in Houston occurred two days after an American Airlines flight from Columbus, Ohio, to Phoenix was forced to turn around and land due to a bird strike shortly after takeoff.
“Bird strikes can cause severe aircraft damage and put lives at risk,” the FAA tweeted Wednesday. “To help reduce the chances of them happening, the FAA is researching new technology that would shoo birds away from oncoming aircraft.”
Globally, more than 280 people died and more than 260 planes were destroyed as a result of wildlife strikes between 1988 to 2018, according to the FAA.