Bird Strikes Spark FAA Plans to Investigate Safety Measures

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Following reports of increased bird populations, the FAA is considering safety changes to address possible bird strikes. Bird-X, Inc. explains the situation.

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Bird strike damage caused to Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul to Nevşehir in May. Photo courtesy of telegraph.co.uk

Airplane bird strikes are up 600% over the past 3 decades... with Canada goose populations alone up 40%.

According to a report from ABC News on Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) may introduce new steps for increasing safety risks posed by increasing populations of birds. Bird-X, bird control experts for 50 years, reports.

The report points out that airplane bird strikes are up 600% over the past 3 decades. They state this is because the bird population is up, with Canada goose populations alone up 40%.

"We have noticed an increase in bird problem inquiries today vs a few years ago in the US, Canada, and Europe the past few years," stated Tammy Stone, International Sales Manager of Bird-X, Inc. "Nuisance bird populations are definitely rising everywhere."

The ABC report states, “Large birds can do plenty of damage to a jetliner’s nose, engines, wings, and tail,” and says the FAA is considering new regulations to require planes to be built with stronger designs to those specific areas.

“It’s very scary what birds do to airplanes when they’re hit; it’s not something to be taken lightly,” said Ms. Stone.

Just last May the Telegraph reported on a Turkish Airlines bird strike, which caused a collapsed nose cone They quoted a Turkish Airlines spokesman who said such incidents are common: “The damage of the nose area (radome) by bird hit is a common incident on civil aeronautical operations.”

The ABC report referenced several high-profile bird strikes, including the Miracle on the Hudson in which both of a plane’s engines were damaged by birds, and a lethal strike to a smaller plane in Oklahoma that resulted in the loss of 5 lives.

With all these facts in mind, Bird-X believes it’s easy to understand why the FAA is considering making changes to airplane construction standards. Evolving the bodies of airplanes to better resist the impacts bird strikes in the age of rising bird populations may just prove to be common sense. Another positive move, with or without airplane body changes, is to reduce the number of birds and other animals that can be found on runways.

According to the FAA Wildlife Strike Database, about 60% of bird strikes in the US occur during landing phases, 37% during takeoff, and only the remaining 3% en-route, with 92% of bird strikes occurring below 3,500 feet. In 2013 alone, about 11,000 bird strikes were reported.

The FAA site shows that while only 25 deaths have been reportedly caused by bird strikes in the US between 1990 and 2013, there were 279 human injuries attributed to strikes. Estimates of damage range between $639 million to $957 million. The most common area of planes damaged by bird strikes are the engines, accounting for 32% of all damaged aircraft components.

The site continues that in addition to birds, other animals are sometimes hit by aircrafts on runways, such as deer, coyotes, turtles, and more. However 97% of animals hit by aircrafts are birds, the most common being 19 different species of gulls. Ducks and geese, which are larger and cause more aircraft damage, are the second most common.

Bird-X has spent over 50 years as the leading international brand of bird and pest control products and is dedicated to protecting the health of humans, wildlife, and the environment in which we all live. The Chicago-based company manufactures a complete line of unique pest control products with an unmatched focus on quality and efficacy, including complete airport bird control systems currently used at airports in the United States and around the world.

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Nicole Afable
Bird-X, Inc.
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