Aviation occurrence briefs

Birdstrike involving a SAAB 340B, Wagga Wagga, NSW, on 22 May 2018

Status: Completed
Investigation completed


Occurrence Briefs are concise reports that detail the facts surrounding a transport safety occurrence, as received in the initial notification and any follow-up enquiries. They provide an opportunity to share safety messages in the absence of an investigation.

What happened

On the afternoon of 22 May 2018, a SAAB 340B departed from Wagga Wagga, New South Wales (NSW) with 3 crewmembers and 30 passengers on board.

At about 1651 Eastern Standard Time, as the take-off roll commenced on runway 23, the crew observed four galahs rise up from the grass to the left and cross in front of the aircraft. As the aircraft’s speed reached V1[1], the crew heard the distinct impact of the four galahs coming from the right side of the aircraft. The pilot flying[2] (PF) proceeded to rotate[3] at VR[4]. The crew detected surges, power loss and vibrations from the no. 2 engine and the PF called “Positive rate, gear up, max power” initiating the engine failure at or above V1 procedure.

The crew continued to follow the company departure procedure by flying out to the south-west of the aerodrome on the runway heading. During initial climb, the crew observed the no. 2 engine had reduced torque and subsequently the pilot monitoring (PM) shut down the engine using the engine failure “Memory Items.” Passing 2,000 ft on climb, the crew proceeded to turn the aircraft left to conduct a return to Wagga Wagga via the instrument landing system (ILS)-Z runway 23 approach. The PM made radio calls on the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) to advise everyone within the aerodrome vicinity of the crew’s intentions and declared a PAN PAN[5] on the Melbourne Centre frequency. The aerodrome rescue and firefighting reponse team acknowledged the radio calls offering their assistance if required.

At a safe altitude, the flight crew advised the cabin crew of the birdstrike and briefed them on the intended plan of action. The cabin crew member moved a paxing crew member towards the front of the aircraft to provide assistance if required. The flight crew advised the passengers of the situation and the cabin crew subsequently recited from the precautionary landing card and continued to secure the cabin with the paxing crew.

After the aircraft landed safely, the crew stopped the aircraft on the runway. The PM briefed the passengers and the cabin crew, and made radio calls on the CTAF and Melbourne Centre to advise of their intended actions. The crew then taxied the aircraft back to the bay where the passengers disembarked. During the post-flight inspection, the flight crew and engineers found bird remains in the engine intake and an air scoop on the inboard side of the no. 2 engine.

The engineering inspection revealed a stage one rotor blade bent beyond limits in the no. 2 engine and the engine was subsequently replaced.

Safety message

This incident provides an example of how effective failure management and crew resource management can lead to the safe recovery of an aircraft when an unplanned incident occurs. Occurrences involving aircraft striking wildlife, particularly birds, are the most common aviation occurrence reported to the ATSB. Strikes with birds continue to be a potential safety risk and present a significant economic risk for aerodrome and airline operators.

The ATSB research report AR-2016-063, Australian aviation wildlife strike statistics: 2006–2015, is available from the ATSB website.

About this report

Decisions regarding whether to conduct an investigation, and the scope of an investigation, are based on many factors, including the level of safety benefit likely to be obtained from an investigation. For this occurrence, no investigation has been conducted and the ATSB did not verify the accuracy of the information. A brief description has been written using information supplied in the notification and any follow-up information in order to produce a short summary report, and allow for greater industry awareness of potential safety issues and possible safety actions.


  1. V1: the critical engine failure speed or decision speed required for take-off. Engine failure below V1 should result in a rejected take off; above this speed the take-off should be continued.
  2. Pilot Flying (PF) and Pilot Monitoring (PM): procedurally assigned roles with specifically assigned duties at specific stages of a flight. The PF does most of the flying, except in defined circumstances; such as planning for descent, approach and landing. The PM carries out support duties and monitors the PF’s actions and the aircraft’s flight path.
  3. Rotation: the positive, nose-up, movement of an aircraft about the lateral (pitch) axis immediately before becoming airborne.
  4. VR: the speed at which the rotation of the aircraft is initiated to take-off attitude. This speed cannot be less than V1 or less than 1.05 times VMCG. With an engine failure, it must also allow for the acceleration to V2 at a height of 35 ft at the end of the runway.
  5. PAN PAN: an internationally recognised radio call announcing an urgency condition which concerns the safety of an aircraft or its occupants but where the flight crew does not require immediate assistance.
General details
Date: 22 May 2018   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1651 EST    
Location   (show map): Wagga Wagga    
State: New South Wales    
Release Date: 16 August 2018   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Saab Aircraft Co.  
Aircraft model 340B  
Type of operation Air Transport Low Capacity  
Sector Turboprop  
Damage to aircraft Minor  
Last update 12 December 2018