Updated at 5.20pm

An Air Malta plane was grounded and sent for repairs on Saturday after pilots inspecting it before takeoff noticed a bird had dented one of its wings. 

The plane, which was scheduled to take passengers from Malta to Munich on Saturday morning, was held back for further checks to its wing. 

Subsequent verifications confirmed that the damage had to be repaired before the plane could safely take off. A second aircraft was deployed to take delayed passengers to Munich, but the knock-on effect forced Air Malta to cancel a second flight to Munich scheduled for later in the day. 

"Passengers on these flights are being given assistance and re-routed to their final destination," an airline spokesman said.

Air Malta flights to London Heathrow, Paris Orly and Frankfurt were delayed by anything between 45 and 90 minutes as a result. 

"Air Malta gives utmost importance to the safety and well-being of its customers and crew and apologises to its customers for this inconvenience caused by circumstances beyond its control," he said. 

Birdstrikes, as they are known in the aviation industry, can cause significant damage to aircraft engines, cockpits, wings or rudders. They most commonly occur when planes are taking off or landing.

A total of 48 birdstrikes were recorded at MIA in 2017. The average number of bird strikes between 2014 and 2016 was 33 a year.

The airport has bird-hazard management procedures in place that include bird-presence patrols, harassment through acoustic distress calls, removal of food and water sources at the aerodrome and regular cutting of grass to eliminate shelter.


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