South Africa Bird Strike Breaks Propeller Shattering Plane Window

Bird strikes are not uncommon in aviation. Thankfully, most incidents are relatively minor, although some can be much more serious.

Bird strikes are not uncommon in aviation. Thankfully, most incidents are relatively minor, although some can be much more serious. Such was the case on a flight yesterday when a Jetstream JS-41 operated by South African airline Airlink suffered a snapped propellor blade as a result of the strike. Thankfully nobody was hurt, but the aircraft was seriously damaged.


Bird strike

South African airline Airlink is well known for its fleet of Embraer regional jets. The carrier flies 47 of the type, ranging from the smallest EMB 135 to the ERJ 190. But, alongside these more commonly seen jets, the airline also has a small fleet of BAe Jetstream 41s, with six in total under its care.

At present, five of those six are listed as inactive, according to But one is still operating, and was undertaking a charter flight from Johannesburg to Venetia Mine (South Africa) when it was involved in a terrifying incident.

As the aircraft was approaching Venetia Mine, a bird struck the propellor on the right hand side. The strike was so forceful that the blade snapped off from the hub, penetrating the sidewall of the aircraft and causing damage even on the inside of the cabin.

A SA Airlink Jetstream JS-41, reg ZS-NRJ performing a charter flight from Johannesburg to Venetia Mine (SA), was on approach to when a bird impacted the right hand propeller causing one of the blades to separate and penetrate the cabin. The aircraft continued for a safe landing.

— Fabricio Darosci Jr (@fabdjr) January 4, 2022

Thankfully there were no passengers seated in the area where the penetration occurred. It appears that the blade entered the cabin through the passenger window, destroying the window pane. However, there is also damage to the cabin wall on the opposite side of the fuselage, suggesting that the blade remnants were traveling at quite a high speed as they entered the passenger cabin.

SA Airlink BAe Jetstream 41 (ZS-NRJ, built 1995) took serious damage to its #2 prop after a heavy birdstrike on approach to Venetia Airport (FAVM), S-Africa causing a blade to crash through the fuselage. The pilots made a safe landing and no one was hurt.

— JACDEC (@JacdecNew) January 4, 2022

Wooden blades?

The aircraft, ZS-NRJ, is a 26-year-old model, delivered new to Airlink in 1995. It has seats for 29 in an all-economy layout, with solo seats on the left and twin seats on the right of the aisle.

The detritus created from the blade detachment appears to show splinters of wood across the cabin. While this is partly true, it’s not just plain wood that makes up the propellors of this aircraft.

The JS-41 has MT-Propeller blades, a natural composite blade that has been in production since 1928 in Germany. MT natural composite has been tested to produce lower vibrations and better damping than other materials, plus they have greater ground clearance. The JS-41 was awarded an STC for MT-props by SACAA in 2011.


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