Via The Wall Street Journal, Story By SUSAN CAREY And ANDY PASZTOR

Aircraft Departing Puerto Rico Carried 186 Passengers and Six Crew Members

JetBlue Airways Corp. plane bound for New York aborted takeoff Saturday night from San Juan, Puerto Rico, after its left engine caught fire following a bird strike, prompting pilots to evacuate the plane using emergency slides.

JetBlue said preliminary reports suggested that Flight 704, an Airbus A321 single-aisle jet carrying 186 passengers and six crew members, suffered “bird ingestion in the number one engine.”

Damage to jet engines from hitting birds isn’t uncommon but such events rarely result in fires.

The New York-based discount airline, which has sizable operations in Puerto Rico, said three passengers on Flight 704 suffered minor injuries during the evacuation Saturday night. They were taken to hospitals in San Juan, but quickly released.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident.

A makeup flight, JetBlue 8104, departed at 3:30 a.m. Sunday and arrived at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport at 7:09 a.m., JetBlue said.

Firefighters at the airport put out the fire. An FAA spokesman said a runway in San Juan was shut down “for a period.”

When engines do catch fire, the most common causes are oil-pressure problems or loose turbine blades. Statistics compiled by an affiliate of the Flight Safety Foundation show 17 accidents and incidents dating back to the 1990s involving aircraft engine fires caused by internal malfunctions, fuel system failures or other causes.

The FAA has gathered data on a total of some 11,000 bird strikes nationwide affecting airliners, business aircraft and general aviation in 2013. Over the years, about a third of such incidents occurred during takeoff or initial climb. More than 90% of all bird strikes historically happened below 3,500 feet altitude, according to the FAA.

From 1990 to 2013, FAA statistics show 25 fatalities attributed to wildlife strikes involving U.S. civil aircraft.

Full story, via online.wsj.com here.

The FAA Accident and Incident Report can be found, here.

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