2 JetBlue planes safe after bird strikes

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Two separate bird strikes forced JetBlue planes taking off from Kennedy Airport this weekend to return to the airport, officials said, though neither aircraft was damaged and no one was injured.

Flight 721 from JFK to Nassau, Bahamas, departed at 9:59 a.m. Sunday but returned to the airport by 11 a.m. after colliding with birds in flight, said Tamara Bentham, a spokeswoman for JetBlue.

The aircraft was checked out by mechanics and the plane took off with approximately 125 passengers about 12:15 p.m. The travelers landed in Nassau about 2:44 p.m.

Flight 831 to Santiago, Dominican Republic, departed about 3:30 p.m. Saturday, but "pretty shortly after takeoff" struck birds, and the plane returned, Bentham said.

The 130 passengers onboard were put on a replacement plane that took off about 5:55 p.m. The plane landed in the Dominican Republic about 10:43 p.m., Bentham said.

Bird strikes are frequent at U.S. airports. The "Miracle on the Hudson" made headlines when on Jan. 15, 2009, US Airways Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger successfully landed an Airbus A-320 carrying 155 people on the Hudson River after a flock of Canada geese felled the jet's engines. Sullenberger retired soon after his feat.

Despite calls for improved wildlife management following that bird strike, a 2012 Newsday investigation found collisions between birds and airplanes rose 31 percent at the New York City area's major airports between 2009 and 2011. The collisions climbed nearly 40 percent at Kennedy and more than 32 percent at LaGuardia Airport, according to federal government statistics.

At Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma, strikes were down to 12 in the year ending April 1, 2012, from a high of 17 during the year ending April 1, 2010.

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