Southwest B738 at St. Louis on Dec 19th 2023, bird strike

Last Update: March 13, 2024 / 14:44:53 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Dec 19, 2023


Flight number

Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type
Boeing 737-800

ICAO Type Designator

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800, registration N8514F performing flight WN-2217 from St. Louis,MI to Chicago Midway,IL (USA) with 101 passengers and 6 crew, was climbing out of St. Louis' runway 12L when the crew saw a quick "flash" passing diagonally across the nose of the aircraft followed by a thud sound. The crew suspected a bird strike, checked their indications and aircraft performance and decided to continue to destination in the absence of any abnormal behaviour. The aircraft landed safely on Midway's runway 22L about 45 minutes later.

A post flight inspection revealed damage to the leading edge of the left hand horizontal stabilizer.

The aircraft returned to service about 41 hours after landing.

On Mar 13th 2024 the NTSB reported the aircraft sustained substantial damage and released their final report and investigation docket concluding the probable cause of the accident was:

A bird strike during climbout.

The NTSB analysed:

Southwest Airlines flight 2217 struck a bird while climbing though 6,000 ft. after departure from the St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL), St. Louis, Missouri.

According to the flight crew, during the climb they saw a “quick flash” pass diagonally from right to left across the nose of the airplane, followed by a “thud” sound. Which they surmised was a bird that had impacted the nose or belly area of the airplane. After confirming that the flight controls, engines, and pressurization system were operating normally, they decided to continue to their destination.

They advised the company of a possible bird strike via an aircraft communicating and reporting system (ACARS) message to coordinate with maintenance for an inspection and damage assessment upon landing. The flight continued normally with no change in the performance or operation of the airplane and landed without further incident.

After landing the crew performed a post-flight walk around to search for any evidence of a bird strike, when they discovered impact damage to the leading edge of the left horizontal stabilizer. Maintenance personnel subsequently discovered a crack, about 12 inches long, in the left horizonal stabilizer lower spar chord. Although the bird impact caused substantial damage to the left horizontal stabilizer, the flight crew was able to control the airplane and the captain reported that “the flight controls and everything felt normal”.

A review of pilot reports near the time and location of the event revealed that no prior information about bird activity had been reported.
Aircraft Registration Data
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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Dec 19, 2023


Flight number

Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type
Boeing 737-800

ICAO Type Designator

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