Delta 757 With Utah Jazz Basketball Team Has Bird Strike!

By Spyros Georgilidakis | March 31, 2021

A Delta Airlines 757 chartered to carry the Utah Jazz basketball team returned to Salt Lake City after suffering a bird strike.

The Delta 757 was performing flight DL8944, a charter flight. It would fly from Salt Lake City (KSLC) to Memphis (KMEM). It departed from runway 35 at 1:16pm local time on Tuesday. However, the crew stopped the climb at around 8,000 feet. Initial reports indicated that the aircraft hit at least one bird. But more pictures clearly show that it hit several birds. It appears that the left engine ingested at least one of them. The crew quickly set up the aircraft for a return to Salt Lake City.

Delta 757 With Utah Jazz Basketball Team Has Bird Strike!
A view of the fan of the left engine. Photo by @brian_schnee via Twitter

The aircraft landed back at the airport approximately 15 minutes after take-off. Airport fire vehicles met the aircraft on the runway. After inspection, the aircraft returned to the apron on its own power. Pictures of the left engine suggest that it shook enough in the incident, for its cowling to suffer some damage. At this point we don’t know if the aircraft suffered any damage to the fuselage, from engine debris. However the fact it taxied back to the apron, suggests that it didn’t.

Delta 757 With Utah Jazz Basketball Team Has Bird Strike!
A view of the side of the engine cowling. Photo by @brian_schnee via Twitter

History Of The Delta 757 And Aftermath

The aircraft in this incident is a Boeing 757-232, registration N651DL. And at nearly 32 years of age, it’s a fairly old 757, starting its career in 1989. This 757 always flew with Delta Airlines, although it briefly wore the colors of its short-lived ‘Song’ subsidiary. The aircraft has Pratt & Whitney PW2037 engines.

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Given the rather high profile of its customers, Delta Airlines released a statement with regards to the incident of its 757:

As the aircraft was taking off it hit a flock of birds. The left engine was shut down, the pilot declared an emergency in return to Salt Lake International Airport. The aircraft landed without incident and was able to taxi back. Delta Airlines is working on finding another aircraft to get their customers to their destinations.

Delta 757 With Utah Jazz Basketball Team Has Bird Strike!
Clearly there were multiple birds. Photo by @brian_schnee via Twitter

The Utah Jazz basketball team is scheduled to play with the Memphis Grizzlies today (Wednesday). Several of the team’s players made short tweets about the Delta 757’s incident, each showing their relief! There were no injuries among the passengers and crew, or on the ground.



  • Also better title: “Bird strikes severally damages Delta 757 carrying the Utah Jazz basketball team.”

  • A great story with a great ending. This is another happy ending that has me “jazzed”!

  • I am finding the articles from Spyros is lacking in quality. I am not one to talk struggling with writing at times myself. But I many of the article from Spyros are just annoying to read due to deficiencies in the writing and clunky word usage. Obvious English may not be this writer’s first language explaining some of the word usage. Taking a look at this article starting with the first paragraph or statement, I ask about the 5 w’s or reporting (who, what, when, where, and why). The 5 w’s could have been stated right in this first statement. In addition, aircraft don’t suffer bird strikes. They sustain bird strikes.
    I would have written this paragraph:
    “On Tuesday March 30, a charter flight Delta flight DL8944 out of the US city of Salt Lake City carrying the US basketball team the Utah Jazz declared an emergency shortly after takeoff returning to Salt Lake City airport after the Boeing 757 was damaged by multiple bird strikes. “
    The next paragraphs no longer needs to repeat much of what the first paragraph already covered. The following paragraphs suffered with other issues, some writing and other missing information. Pictures showed damage to fuselage and to the engine that clearly missing part of 3 blades. Also missing early on is the information from the Delta statement stating the action from pilots which only come out later in the article as quote from Delta. I included part of this in the first statement. I would have written next couple paragraphs as:
    “Delta charter flight DL8955 was scheduled to flight from Salt Lake City (KSLC) to Memphis (KMEM). The Boeing 757 with PW2037 engines departed from runway 35 at 1:16 pm local time. Shortly after takeoff, the Boeing 757 sustained bird strikes. The initial report stated at least one bird strike but pictures show multiple birds strikes including the left engine ingesting at least one bird sustaining severe damage. The pilots shut down the left engine and declared emergency. At 8,000 feet the pilots turned back to Salt Lake City airport.
    15 minutes after takeoff, flight DL8944 landed back at the airport with firetrucks meeting them on the runway. After inspection, the aircraft was assessed safe to continue to taxi on its own power back to an area to unload passengers. Pictures show damage to the fuselage and severe damage to the left engine. The left engine appears to have lost part of three fan blades with damage to the nacelle probably from the engine imbalance. Doesn’t appear fuselage sustained damage as result of the engine damage although not at this time confirmed. The pictures do show damage to several locations on and near the nose of the fuselage directly from the bird strikes. “
    That next paragraph with the history of the aircraft has its issue. One, aircraft don’t have careers. They have service. My rewrite:
    “The incident aircraft was a Boeing 757-232 with registration N651DL. The engines are PW2037 engines. The airframe is nearly 32 years old entering in service with Delta in 1989. The 757 service has been entirely with Delta although it briefly flew for the short lived ‘Song’ subsidiary.
    Really don’t see the high profile has much to do with a statement from Delta but rest of the article is fine. Although there was no information on if the team getting to the designation?

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