Bird strike myths and facts

The Hudson River incident a few years ago brought dramatic attention to the problem of aircraft bird strikes being all too common, but rarely deadly for aircraft. However, a group called the Bird Strike Committee USA has an article on its website entitled “The Top 10 Bird Strike Myths” and some of the following myths exposed may be somewhat startling.

    1. Bird strikes cannot cause serious airline accidents.
    2. Bird strikes are rare.
    3. Bird strikes are no more of a problem today than 20 or 30 years ago.
    4. Large aircraft are built to withstand all bird strikes.
    5. If a bird flies into an engine during takeoff and the engine quits, the airplane will crash.
    6. Nothing can be done to keep birds away from airports.
    7. It is illegal to kill birds just to protect aircraft.
    8. If birds are a problem at an airport, killing them all would eliminate the problem.
    9. Except for the very rare accident, bird strikes are only a nuisance to airline operators.
    10. Bird strikes are a concern only to those who fly.
    11. Bonus Myth: Bird strikes never occur at high altitudes.

Obviously the answers are the opposite of the above statements or myths and the Bird Strike Committee USA’s article goes into considerable detail listing all of the facts about - Bird Strike bird strikes for each one. The Bird Strike Committee USA’s main website also points out that annual bird and other wildlife strikes to aircraft cause well over $600 million in damage to US civil and military aviation and that over 219 people have been killed worldwide since 1988 (click here to see their list of bird strike incidents starting with Orville Wright).

It should be mentioned that the Bird Strike Committee USA was formed in 1991 to address bird strike issues and their next annual meeting is scheduled for August in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Such meetings are usually spread out over 3 1/2 days and include four parts:

    1. Practical classroom and field training sessions on wildlife control at airports which cover both civil and military aviation.
    2. The presentation of technical papers and posters.
    3. Exhibits and demonstrations with vendors.
    4. A field trip which generally covers the host airport or a wildlife management area to observe management programs and habitat issues related to wildlife and aviation safety.

If you are an airport official in the UK and can’t attend one of these annual meetings, the Bird Strike Committee USA’s website has an Understanding and Reducing Bird Hazards to Aircraft page and a Best Management Practices For Airport Wildlife Control paper listing some of the steps you can take to reduce wildlife dangers at or around airports.

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