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Plane rerouted back to Columbus after bird strike causes engine fire

American Airlines flight 1958 had departed from John Glenn Columbus International Airport in Columbus around 7:45 a.m. and was headed to Phoenix.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — An American Airlines flight is safely on the ground after the plane experienced engine issues over Columbus Sunday morning.

Multiple witness reports came into the 10TV newsroom around 8 a.m. regarding a low-flying plane with flames sparking out of one of the engines. 

John Glenn Columbus International Airport confirmed to 10TV that the plane experienced an engine fire and landed safely. No one was injured in the incident.

A spokesperson from the Columbus Regional Airport Authority said that the reported mechanical issues were caused by a bird strike on departure. The spokesperson on Monday confirmed it was a Canada goose that struck the engine and goose remains were found on the runway. 

According to FlightAware, the plane left the John Glenn Columbus International Airport around 7:45 a.m. and headed toward Phoenix, Arizona.  At around 8 a.m., the plane was over the Upper Arlington area when it turned back toward CMH.

FlightAware states the plane landed back at CMH around 8:20 a.m. on the south runway. 

Matthew Danek, a passenger on the plane, said he was on his way home to Arizona after attending a wedding this weekend with his sister in Columbus when he immediately knew something didn’t feel right on the plane.

"Genuinely, this is the first time in my life that I was ready to die,” said Danek. "There were extreme rumbling vibrations. The noise was deafening.”

Danek saw the engine catch fire out of his window. He said the fire lasted about three minutes backfiring and shooting out turbo flames. He said passengers around him went into a silent panic.

“Immediately the mood changed. Like everyone stopped talking. We all got quiet. We all kind of did that look around like 'You hearing this? You seeing this? we in this right now,” said Danek.

Danek said he was thankful for the swift and calm action of the crew to land the plane within 20 minutes of departure.

"All the crew was absolutely amazing. The pilot was even, I dare say, funny during it. He had a good sense of humor. His poise was astounding,” said Danek.

Former accident investigator and aviation safety expert Shawn Pruchnicki said this type of incident is nothing new to pilots.

"This is something that airline crews train over and over again, under varying conditions, bad weather, daylight, nighttime, said Pruchnicki. "So regardless of why the engine failed, it's something that as a former airline pilot, it's something that we are very, very well trained to handle"

He said there was no need to panic.

“All of these airplanes fly very, very well on a single engine. They're designed to do so it's something that we practice quite extensively,” said Pruchnicki.

Danek is thankful to be home safe in Arizona, with both feet on the ground.

“It’s definitely gonna affect me, but I'm not going to try to let it too because it's out of my hands and you got really well-trained professionals as you can tell who got your back in times of need and that's kind of what gets you through it,” said Danek.

All the passengers were taken onto another plane and scheduled to return to Phoenix at around 10 a.m.

The FAA is leading the investigation into this incident.

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