Engine problem, not bird strike forced JAL flight's return

Japanese transport officials say engine flames that forced a Japan Airlines plane to make an emergency landing were caused by damaged turbine blades, not a bird strike as initially believed.

The Boeing 777-300 ER carrying 250 passengers and crew returned to Tokyo's Haneda International Airport on Tuesday after its pilot requested an emergency landing minutes after takeoff, reporting a bird strike. The plane landed safely about an hour later.

The Japan Transport Safety Board said Thursday it has labeled the case a "serious incident" after finding damage to dozens of turbine blades in the engine, made by General Electric, but no trace of a bird strike.

Aviation safety officials are continuing to investigate the cause of the damage.