A Delta Air Lines Boeing 757 suffered extensive damage following an encounter with a flock of birds mid-air, forcing the aircraft to turn back to its departure airport, Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC).

The Boeing 757-200, registered as N651DL, departed Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), Utah, United States at 1:16 PM local time (UTC -6) towards Memphis International Airport (MEM), the United States on March 30, 2021. Shortly after its departure, the aircraft struck a flock of birds and suffered extensive damage to its nose and left-hand side engine (engine No. 1), forcing it to return to SLC. The 757 returned to its original departure airport no more than 20 minutes after it took off from SLC.

The aircraft was chartered by Utah Jazz, a National Basketball Association (NBA) team that was heading towards Memphis to play versus the Memphis Grizzlies. Delta Air Lines sent a replacement aircraft, another Boeing 757 (N666DN) that departed from SLC at 7:45 PM local time (UTC -6) and landed at MEM at 11:09 PM local time (UTC -5).

“The Utah Jazz travel party was shaken, but unharmed, after engine failure forced the team’s charter to make an emergency landing in Salt Lake City on Tuesday afternoon,” read a statement issued by the team, reiterating that “no one on the plane was harmed.”

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Seemingly, Delta Air Lines had good reason to repair the 23-year-old Boeing 757 when it sustained very heavy damage upon its landing in Ponta Delgada, Portugal in August 2019. However, the current pandemic might have changed the story of the aircraft.