A flight heading to Lisbon from the island of São Tomé was forced to turn around after a bird strike on take-off, leaving 157 passengers grounded for more than a day.
Flight TP-254, carried out by a Sata International Airbus A310-300 last Friday (1 February), on behalf of Tap Air Portugal, was accelerating for takeoff when reportedly an engine ingested a large bird, according to aviation website Aviation Herald, prompting the crew to reject takeoff at high speed.
Reports state the aircraft slowed safely but a number of tyres deflated. Its replacement was expected to reach Lisbon with a delay of 25 hours.
São Tomé is a Portuguese-speaking island nation in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa.
One observer commenting on Aviation Herald said landing and taking off from São Tomé is “demanding” and leaves “little room for error.”
“You don't mess around at São Tomé. A less than 7000 ft runway with high mountains rising steeply at one end and fierce South Atlantic Ocean waves lapping the other end, with virtually no overrun”, it was described.
Another commentator on the forum said that a replacement SATA airbus had been ferried in from Funchal to Lisbon to fly the passengers from the stricken aircraft back to Portugal.
Established in December 1990 SATA International (full name SATA Internacional Serviços E Transportes Aéreos) is an airline based in São Sebastião, Ponta Delgada, in the Azores, Portugal. It operates scheduled flights to the Madeira Islands, mainland Portugal and other destinations in Europe and North America, as well as charter flights.