• The plane returned safely to John Glenn Columbus International Airport
  • All 173 passengers are safe
  • The aircraft was carrying about 30,000 pounds of fuel

An American Airlines flight on its way to Arizona was forced to return to an Ohio airport after a bird strike disabled its engine.

The Boeing 737, traveling from Columbus to Phoenix, safely returned to John Glenn Columbus International Airport on Sunday with its 173 passengers and crew.

The scheduled takeoff for American Airlines Flight 1958 was 7:43 a.m., reported NBC News. The aircraft was carrying about 30,000 pounds of fuel when the bird strike happened around 8 a.m. It immediately returned to the airport after its engine caught fire.

A video circulating on social media appears to show flames shooting out from the plane.

"The flight landed normally and taxied safely to the gate under its own power," the airline said. "The aircraft was taken out of service for maintenance and our team is working to get customers back on their way to PHX. Safety is our top priority and we thank our customers for their understanding."

The airport initially said the flight returned because of an engine fire but later said the aircraft "experienced mechanical issues, not an engine fire."

John Fisher, who was traveling on the flight, told NBC affiliate WCMH that the aircraft collided with a flock of geese.

"Apparently we struck a flock of geese and the engine started making real loud 'clonk, clonk, clonk' noises," the passenger said. "They eventually turned the engine off and turned around and went back to the airport."

A person living near the airport said he was making coffee when he heard strange noises and went to his balcony to see the American Airlines flight in flames mid-air.

"I heard this loud sound outside," Teddy Nemunaitis told the outlet. "It sounded like a backfiring car, and I immediately ran on my balcony, looked up in the sky and saw this low-flying American Airlines jet with flames coming out of the engine."

The pilot said they could not dodge the flock and lost the right engine due to the collision, Fisher added.

"Many people started crying and going into tears, because we just didn't know if we were going to make it or not. Frankly, it was terrifying, and I comforted as many people as I could next to me, and I don't know what to say. I'm still in shock. I didn't start crying until after I got off the plane," another passenger, Marnie Kallestad, told ABC 7 Chicago.

Sunday's incident came just days after another American Airlines aircraft caught fire at Charlotte Douglas Airport just before takeoff Thursday.

Representational image (plane)
Representational image (Source: Pixabay / blickpixel) Pixabay / blickpixel