There’s a land in which bald eagles drop fish on 737 windshields and bears become collateral damage to a 737 landing. It’s called Alaska. Sadly, a brown bear did not survive the latest impact.
Bear Killed By Alaska Airlines 737
It’s a sad story, really. A brown bear was struck crossing a runway in Yakutat (YAK) while an Alaska Airlines flight landed on Saturday evening.
The impact damaged the Boeing 737-700, but caused no human injury onboard. A two-year-old cub also survived. Only six passengers were onboard the flight.
How could a bear wind up on a runway? There does not appear to be evidence of negligence. In fact, the ground crew apparently inspected and cleared the runway just minutes before AS66 from Corodova (CKU) was due to land and found no wildlife. This same ground crew is trained each year to deal with wildlife, including using vehicles or pyrotechnics to drive animals off airport premises, when necessary.
“The nose gear missed the bears, but the captain felt an impact on the left side after the bears passed under the plane.”
As pilots taxied to the gate, one noticed a bear lying on the ground near the cockpit.
As you can see below, the plane suffered damage in the left engine cowl:
“Our maintenance technicians are working to repair the plane, which will take a couple of days.”
A couple days seems fairly optimistic.
Alaska Airlines did not leave the passengers and crew stranded. Instead, AS107, already in the air from Seattle to Anchorage, diverted briefly to Yakutat to pick up the distressed passengers and crew. The original flight, AS66, was bound for Juneau and ultimately Seattle, but Anchorage is a far easier airport from which to catch a connecting flight.
I’ve searched intensely for an update on what happened to the two-year-old cub, but there is virtually no information available beyond reports that he hovered over the lifeless corpse of his mother.
We are all thankful that no human being was hurt. But even the death of a bear or the shock of a two-year-old cub in response is a sad tale especially as death swirls around us in this era of uncertainty.
Yakutat Airport, which must also deal with deer, geese, caribou, and bald eagles on its premises, will review its procedures to keep out unwanted wildlife.