A Japan Airlines jetliner was forced to turn around for an emergency landing at a busy airport in Tokyo on Tuesday (5 September) shortly after takeoff. The incident took place reportedly after one of its engines caught fire due to a bird strike during takeoff.
No injuries have been reported among any of the 248 people onboard. But authorities said they will still investigate the incident and inspect the engine of the Japan Airlines (JAL) flight, according to local media reports.
The Boeing 777 plane, which was bound for New York, was carrying 233 passengers and 15 crew members. It took off from Tokyo's Haneda International Airport at 11am local time.
The aircraft returned to the airport an hour later after those on board requested an emergency landing, an airline spokesman told the media.
"It seems that a bird got sucked into the left engine when taking off," a JAL spokesman told AFP news agency.
The plane had to discard some fuel in the air in order to reduce weight before landing, he added.
Video footage broadcast by Japan's public broadcaster NHK News showed red flames flickering from the left engine of the Boeing 777 as the aircraft ascended from the runway.
According to Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism official, a grass field near one of the runways caught fire for a brief period after the JAL plane departed, but it was doused immediately.
Passengers on board heaved a sigh of relief as they landed safely.
"Right after taking off, we heard five bangs and the plane shook," a 57-year-old passenger told NHK after landing. "But all the passengers were calm."
Another passenger, 17, said, "I was nervous at first. I'm glad we were able to come back safely."
Haneda, one of the world's busiest airports, is reported to be the worst for bird strikes in Japan.
There were apparently 182 cases of bird strikes last year, which was followed by Osaka airport with 73 cases and Narita at 57, according to Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper.
The publication, however, noted that none of the incidents affected flight operations.
In a similar incident in July, an AirAsia X flight bound for Kuala Lumpur was forced to divert after takeoff from the Gold Coast following a suspected bird strike, before eventually landing in Brisbane.
Bird strikes are reported to be rarely dangerous, according to a Telegraph report.
"Aircraft are designed and built to withstand bird strikes and pilots undergo rigorous training to enable them to deal with eventualities like a bird strike," said Stephen Landells, flight safety specialist of British Airline Pilots Association.