A jet operated by American Airlines struck a whitetail deer while attempting to take off around noon hour on Wednesday.
Heading to Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, the CRJ-700 struck the deer during its take off roll causing the flight crew to declare an emergency, prompting a flyover to allow personnel on the ground to inspect for damage before an attempted landing.
“We had a loud bang, we’re coming back,” someone who appears to be a pilot tells an air traffic controller, in a recording from the Charlotte Douglas control tower.
“OK, we think you hit – somebody that was passing said it was a deer,” the air traffic worker replies then gives the plane directions to return.
“Say that again? I’ve got a bunch, a bunch of adrenaline here,” the crew member replies.
A few minutes later, the crew got the damage assessment from the ground.
“5320, you are showing you’re trailing some kind of vapor or something off the right wing,” an air traffic worker can be heard telling the flight crew.
“We copy and we understand,” the flight crew replies a moment later.
The jet safely landed shortly after on the runway as the 49 passengers and crew were evacuated and the aircraft was promptly sprayed with flame retardant after it was noted that the jet was leaking fuel.
The runway was reopened around 2 p.m. after inspection.
Officials remain unclear as to how the deer accessed the runway, which as with many other airports, is surrounded by 19 miles of barbed wire-topped fencing.
This incident marks the sixth deer-plane collision at Charlotte Douglas since 1994, with the majority of wildlife-plane collisions at the airport being caused by avian species such as birds and bats.