In a one-off incident, a JS-41 registered ZS-NRJ propeller aircraft that has been in service for 26 years suffered major damage after a bird strike. The blade of the plane’s propeller broke on bird strike and entered the cabin where no one was sitting and no harm was done.
While it appears there were wood splinters scattered across the cabin as a result of the blade detachment, the propellers on this particular aircraft are not just made of wood. Germany has been producing natural composite blades since 1928 for the aircrafts, called MT-Propeller.
With 29 seats in all-economy configuration (solos on left, twins on right), this plane has an all-economy layout.
As compared with other materials, natural composite from MT offers better vibration damping and greater ground clearance. In 2011, SACAA awarded the JS-41 an STC for MT-propellers.
A SA Airlink Jetstream JS-41, reg ZS-NRJ performing a charter flight from Johannesburg to Venetia Mine (SA), was on approach to when a bird impacted the right hand propeller causing one of the blades to separate and penetrate the cabin. The aircraft continued for a safe landing. pic.twitter.com/cMkb2pJKES
— Fabricio Darosci Jr (@fabdjr) January 4, 2022
In response to the incident, Airlink issued the following statement:
“Yesterday an Airlink Jetstream 41 aircraft operating a private charter flight struck a large bird upon landing at Venetia airfield. None of the passengers or crew were injured although the aircraft sustained substantial damage. In compliance with aviation protocols and regulations, the occurrence was reported to the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) which will conduct an investigation. The aircraft remains at Venetia airfield pending the SACAA’s inspection and a full damage assessment.”
Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 is likely to recall the fateful incident, when a fan blade from a turbine caused serious damage to the Boeing 737 which ultimately resulted in a passenger’s death. Although Airlink’s story ended happily, it could have been much worse.