Plane collides with deer on takeoff at Charlotte airport - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: |

Plane collides with deer on takeoff at Charlotte airport


A flight bound for Mississippi from Charlotte declared an emergency after it collided with a deer while taking off Wednesday.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), PSA Airlines flight 5320, a subsidiary of American Airlines, attempted to take off from the Charlotte Douglas International Airport when the collision with the deer happened on Runway 36C. The plane turned around and landed safely on Runway 36R.

The incident happened around 12:15 p.m.

“Plane pulled up and the fire trucks came racing over and they sprayed it with foam because they had a fuel leak,” said Greg Velz, a passenger on another flight. “It was sitting out our right window so it was pretty obvious that they were having a situation.”

American Airlines officials say none of the 44 passengers or four crew members were injured in the collision.

MOBILE USERS: Click here to see photos of the plane after the collision

According to The Charlotte Observer, the flight crew declared an emergency and then did a flyover so personnel on the ground could inspect it for damage prior to attempting a landing.

“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 on an air traffic recording from the Charlotte Douglas tower.

Firefighting crews met the plane and sprayed flame retardant because it was leaking jet fuel. The runway was closed for a while so that crews could clean up from the incident. The airplane was towed away around 2 p.m.

The passengers, who were slated to fly to Gulfport, were taken back to the terminal on buses. Passengers were placed on another plane and departed for Mississippi. 

“We were supposed to take that airplane’s slot as it took off,” said Mike Friedrich, a passenger on a flight that was delayed. “We circled for a little bit and then finally started coming in.”

Charlotte Douglas spokeswoman Lee Davis told The Charlotte Observer the airport will evaluate how the deer got on the runway as part of its wildlife management plan. Surrounded by over 19 miles of barbed wire-topped perimeter fencing, Charlotte Douglas is also ringed by thousands of acres of wooded land conducive to deer.

“Not something you worry about. Usually, you hear about air strikes with a goose or birds, but no not a deer," said Friedrich.

Several people at the airport said they had seen deer on airport property before.

“I was concerned because I knew it was in such proximity to the runway and he was just standing on the side of the road,” said Lisa Donovan. Donovan saw a large deer near Billy Graham Parkway last week.

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