NTSB Identification: CHI04IA260.
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Scheduled 14 CFR American Airlines Inc
Incident occurred Thursday, September 16, 2004 in Chicago, IL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/13/2005
Aircraft: McDonnell Douglas DC-9-82, registration: N253AA
Injuries: 112 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various sources and may not have traveled in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft incident report.

The domestic air carrier flight encountered a flock of birds during climb out after takeoff. The flight crew reported that they noticed the flock of birds too late to avoid them. The first officer, who was the pilot flying, stated: "The flock separated and passed on both sides of the aircraft. We felt and heard the impact. The left engine immediately seized and a fire warning ensued." The crew successfully extinguished the engine fire and returned to the departure airport for an emergency landing. Examination of the engine revealed that the fan module sustained damage during the event. The module rotated approximately 45-degrees which pulled the fuel line to the fuel/oil cooler loose. Observed fire damage was in the area of the fuel/oil cooler. A bird recovered from the debris path was identified as a double-crested cormorant. It was estimated to weigh 5 pounds intact. Examination of bird debris recovered from the engine confirmed that at least two birds were ingested.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this incident to be:

An in-flight collision with a flock of birds during climb out after takeoff, which damaged the left engine fan module and ruptured a fuel line to the fuel-oil cooler causing an engine fire.

Full narrative available

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