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Birdstrike Description Print

What is a Bird Strike?

The term Bird Strike refers to a situation in which the pilot of an airplane reports striking a bird. Following the reported strike verification of the strike will be evident on, in or surrounding the airplane or the area surrounding where the strike occurred (runway or nearby vicinity). A Bird Strike may also be confirmed by witnesses on the ground and/or photo and video documentation.

When do Bird Strikes most often occur?

The highest reported occurrence of Bird strikes happen during airplane takeoff or landing, or during low altitude flight. Some Bird Strikes have been reported at higher altitudes but the majority happen nearer to the ground at or surrounding airports. The point of impact is usually any forward-facing edge of the aircraft such as a leading wing edge, nose cone, jet engine cowling or engine inlet. Jet engine ingestion is extremely serious due to the rotation speed of the engine fan and engine design. As the bird strikes a fan blade, that blade can be displaced into another blade and so forth, causing a cascading failure. Jet engines are particularly vulnerable during the takeoff phase when the engine is turning at a very high speed and the plane is at a low altitude where birds are more commonly found.

With more than 90% of bird strikes occurring at low altitudes in the vicinity of airports, BirdStrikeUSA.com employs various methods to reduce bird attraction to the airport regions, operate dispersal programs and scare birds from approach and departure paths.

It is more common that bird strike results in minor aircraft damage however the potential disruption to flight schedules, aircraft and crew downtime, passenger inconvenience and risk to personnel poses ever increasing and substantial costs. The estimated cost of Bird Strikes to the U.S. aviation industry tops $600 million U.S. each year with worldwide estimates over $1.2 billion. In 2007 it was estimated the over 5700 bird strikes occurred in the United States alone.

Since 1912 bird strikes have brought down more than 360 civil and military aircraft, caused severe damage to aircraft and resulted in a reported 370 human fatalities – the figures indicative of bird strike incidents recorded only, with specialists suggesting the figure is grossly underestimated and the reporting process inconsistent.


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