Seventy-four passengers and six crew members of a Mumbai-Coimbatore-Chennai JetLite flight went through some anxious moments after the aircraft suffered a bird hit soon after it took off from the airport here and was forced to return on Sunday night. The incident took place a few minutes after 10pm and the pilots immediately alerted the air traffic control.

Officials said the bird hit the cockpit windscreen, forcing the pilot to turn back and return to the airport for inspection. The passengers were later flown to Chennai on another flight on Monday morning while the aircraft was grounded for maintenance work until Monday afternoon.

"The pilot came to know that a panel in the cockpit was not working due to the bird-hit. So, he landed the flight at the airport and reported the problem to the airport authorities and Directorate General of Civil Aviation," said P Paul Manickam, airport director.

"Initially, I was told there were some technical problems in the flight and so it was grounded. Later, the airline management said it happened due to the bird-hit. The engineers have carried out the repairs. On Monday afternoon, the plane was flown to Chennai without passengers for maintenance work," Manickam said.

He said the airport had posted 10 workers near the runway to chase away birds. They used to set off fireworks and ensured there was no vegetation in the airport. "We installed three zone guns near the runway seven months ago to create a loud noise to scare away the birds," he said. This was the first bird-hit reported after installing zone guns, he said.


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