More detail has emerged about what the Ryanair Boeing 737-800 crew faced following a multiple birdstrike on short final approach to Rome Ciampino airport on 10 November.

According to sources close to the investigation, when the crew sighted a huge flock of starlings ahead they initiated a go-around, but the birds rose into the flightpath and the aircraft suffered a considerable loss of power on both engines.

The crew were flying the aircraft manually when, passing about 200ft (60m), the starlings - an estimated 1,000 in number - "engulfed" the aeroplane, and the fan speed on the engines dropped from its normal approach setting of about 65% to 40%, and moving the power levers produced no result. Within 30s of the pilots' first sighting of the birds the aircraft had made a hard landing and come to a halt on the runway.

Ryanair congratulated the pilots and cabin crew of the aircraft in a 10 December ceremony at its Frankfurt Hahn base in Germany.

The carrier's safety director Michael Horgan says: "To bring the aircraft to a safe landing following a major loss of power on both engines required a level of composure and skill that is a credit to both Capt Frederic Colson and first officer Alexander Vet and underscores the exceptional flying standards that have always been the hallmark of Ryanair's safety and training operations."

Flocks of starlings, known as "murmurations", can be vast and are known for changing direction fast and unpredictably.

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Source: Flight International