In a first in Alaska Airlines history, a jet struck and killed a brown bear while landing Saturday, officials said.
The Boeing 737-700 was landing at the Yakutat Airport in southeast Alaska when it struck both the mother and her cub, killing the mother and leaving the 2-year-old cub undamaged. None of the passengers or crew were injured.
According to Associated Press, although airport crew members had cleared the runway about 10 minutes before the flight was expected to land the jet landed in the dark and the staff didn’t see any signs of wildlife during their normal checks.
Only until after landing did the pilot spot the two bears, just as the jet slowed.
"The nose gear missed the bears, but the captain felt an impact on the left side after the bears passed under the plane,” Alaska Airlines said in a statement.
The pilots saw the bear lying about 20 feet (6 meters) from the center of the runway as the plane taxied to a parking area just before 6:30 p.m., the airline said.
The airport crew is accustomed to dealing with wildlife, plants have reportedly hit deer, geese, and caribou in the post, but never a bear. Employees are known to use pyrotechnics or vehicles to keep animals away from the runway.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game was expected to collect the remains of the bear.
The left engine cowling of the jet was damaged, and the plane remained in Yakutat Sunday.
“Our maintenance technicians are working to repair the plane, which will take a couple of days,” Alaska Airlines said.