A visualization of bird strike data

Bird strikes have been in the news lately and especially after the Hudson River incident earlier this year along with a controversial proposal by the USA’s FAA to keep data about bird strikes confidential. However and as we have noted in the past, bird strikes are fairly common but are rarely deadly (that is, for the aircraft and the passengers).

To help further put things in perspective, Brett, who is the blogger behind the popular Cranky Flier blog, has recently posted an exclusive preview of Tableau Software’s interactive visualization of FAA bird strike data. The interactive display clearly shows that bird strikes rarely do damage but the reporting of bird strikes (and we emphasis the reporting of) is clearly on the rise. However, Brett also notes that: 

A whopping total of .06% of bird strikes destroyed the airplane. That’s 11 airplanes out of the 20,000 that have hit birds since 2005. (And this only goes through 2008, so it doesn’t include the ditching in the Hudson.) You’ll notice that props receive damage more often than jets

In other words, bird strikes are a threat but with all things considered (i.e. the weather, other air traffic etc.), they remain a fairly small threat to worry about.

Should you be curious about the actual data, the interactive display is a fairly handy and useful tool to help put things in perspective and hopefully it will help to allay any fears among the general public concerning the actual risk from such a strike.

2 Responses to A visualization of bird strike data

  1. Pat Flannigan September 8, 2009 at 16:45 #

    It's important to keep things in perspective. Based on the data visualization, the vast majority of birdstrikes happen to jet aircraft. Not surprising, considering the substantial difference in speed between a DC-9 and a C-182. With a light prop, the birds have more time to react and get out of the way.

    In fact, the highest number of bird strikes reported doing any damage was 154 in 1998, and that was only minor damage.

    For those worried about birdstrikes, here's some advice an old CFI shared with me that has almost mostly proven to be true in my experience: birds always dive.

  2. Sylvia September 15, 2009 at 11:53 #

    A commercial pilot I know told me that in the UK, there is a huge amount of paperwork that now needs filing in order to report a bird strike. As a result, the common advice is that if you think something might have struck your plane, say it was a bat. No red-tape nor extra paperwork involved.

    I recently saw a report of mammals hit by aerocraft and wondered if this might be related.

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