LATEST: US TV host Oprah Winfrey's private jet was forced to return to Santa Barbara airport on Monday (26DEC05) because of accumulative damage, and not because it collided with a bird as was first thought.

Following a Christmas break at her estate in nearby Montecito, California, Winfrey had boarded her Gulfstream jet to fly to the US east coast, before the plane was forced to make an emergency landing at 12:30pm local time.

Officials had thought a collision with a bird was the reason behind the plane's windscreen damage, but now believe otherwise.

Santa Barbara Fire Department spokesman JOHN AHLMAN says, "There was no bird involved, but the pilot did tell my captain that he felt it was a fatigue thing with the glass."