Aircraft suffer bird strikes on a daily basis. What happened to Northwest Flight 478 remains a mystery.
The Boeing 757 was descending through 18000 feet when the crew reported a loud bang.
The crew did not suspect a bird strike due to their high altitude. They did suspect radome damage due to the failure of the radar system and slowed their airspeed.
The aircraft made an uneventful landing at Tampa International Airport with 182 passengers and crew.
Post flight inspection revealed impact damage to the radome. However it was not consistent with damage caused by a bird strike.
Neither the FAA nor the airline has determined whether the damage was the result of an unexplained structural failure, lightning or another cause.