The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is increasing its efforts to raise awareness about the importance of reporting wildlife strikes.
The “Report Wildlife Strikes” poster outreach campaign is specifically aimed at general aviation pilots, airport managers, and aviation companies and organizations. Information reports are vital to helping FAA regulators and airport management officials keep track of how many strikes occur at general aviation airports, what types of wildlife are involved and how much damage is done to the aircraft.
With that data in hand, the FAA can work with airports to develop mitigation plans to reduce wildlife strikes.
From 1990 to 2013, there were approximately 142,000 animal-aircraft strikes reported, including about 11,000 strikes last year at 650 airports nationwide, according to the FAA. During that 23-year period, 25 people were killed and nearly 280 others were injured as the result of reported wildlife strikes.
Strikes with wildlife resulted in 62 civil aircraft being destroyed and many more sustaining damage, with inflation-adjusted losses estimated at nearly $1 billion annually, federal aviation regulators report.
This is not a new problem: Orville Wright reported the first aircraft-bird strike in 1905.
One of the best-known wildlife strikes occurred in January 2009 when a US Airways Airbus 320 collided with a flock of Canada geese shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport in New York. Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger was able to safely splash-land the aircraft on the Hudson River, an incident that came to be known as the “Miracle on the Hudson.”
This is the third year the Federal Aviation Administration has used the poster campaign to raise awareness. In a July 2014 news release, the FAA said it hopes the distribution of 12,000 posters will boost the reporting of wildlife strikes at the nation’s 2,000-plus commercial service and general aviation airports. The poster includes a Quick Response (QR) code that allows the reporting of a wildlife strike via smartphone or other mobile device.
FAA statistics show that 97% of aircraft-wildlife strikes involve birds. Other species involved in the incidents include deer, coyotes, turtles, skunks, bats and alligators.
A little more than half of bird strikes occur between July and October, or roughly the period encompassing when young birds fledge from their nests and birds begin their fall migration. More than 60% of reported bird strikes occur during daytime, with 29% happening at night and the remainder occurring at dusk or dawn.
Wildlife management programs seek to reduce the risk to aviation safety by removing or dispersing birds and other animals at and near airports. This may include making changes to the habitat, using predators such as falcons or activating noise makers.