Bird strike forces Qatar Airways jet into emergency landing

A Qatar Airways passenger plane made an emergency landing at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport Thursday after a bird strike on one of its engines, the Gulf carrier said.

All 312 passengers and crew were evacuated safely, Qatar Airways said.

“Qatar Airways can confirm that QR240 from Istanbul to Doha experienced a bird strike, which resulted in its safe return to Istanbul,” the airline said in a statement.

“All 298 passengers and 14 crew disembarked normally,” it added.

A replacement plane was sent from Doha to Istanbul and had landed in Turkey, airline officials added.

“Customer needs, including onward travel, will be taken care of by the airline,” the statement said.

“The pilot followed all safety procedures.”

Aviation officials said the bird strike had caused a fire in one of the engines.

Media reports in Turkey — and flight tracking websites — said the plane involved was an Airbus A330.

Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu said that the aircraft encountered difficulties after take-off and had a problem with its left engine.

The pilot of the plane communicated with the tower, seeking permission to return to Istanbul airport, Anadolu added.

A spokesman for Airbus told AFP that such incidents were “rare” but they had not as yet been informed officially by Qatar Airways that the plane involved was an A330.

Qatar Airways said it operates two flights daily from Ataturk Airport to Doha.

The airline is one of the biggest carriers in the Middle East and has a fleet of more than 180 aircraft.