Flight FR1194 was arriving into the Italian city at around 11.30pm when the dramatic bird strike occurred, with some of the herons being sucked into the aircraft’s right engine, and others hitting the cockpit windscreen.
The pilots’ view on landing was obscured by the splattered debris caused by the collision, but they managed to land the aircraft safely, with no injuries onboard.
Video footage shows sparks shooting out from the right side of the Boeing 787-800 as it descended, while grisly images posted by the Breaking Aviation News Twitter account show heron carcasses scattered across the plane’s exterior.
— Breaking Aviation News & Videos (@aviationbrk) November 26, 2021
Airport staff at Marconi Airport had the unfortunate task of clearing the dead birds from the aircraft after landing.
Bird strikes are a very real threat to aircraft, with most incidents occurring shortly before landing - though data from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) shows that only around 4.5 per cent of incidents cause damage to the plane.
They are estimated to cost airlines over $1bn a year in damage and delays.
In October, a Ryanair flight which had taken off from Manchester Airport was forced to make an emergency landing in Liverpool seven minutes into its journey when a bird hit the engine, making a noise that “sounded more like a motorboat or a propeller engine”, according to one passenger.
The same month, a vulture smashed into the nose of an Iberia flight as it descended into Madrid, gouging a sizeable hole in the front of the aircraft.