Collisions between birds and aircraft are a serious concern because of the danger to passengers in the aircraft and to people on the ground below. This concern is increasing as the number of civil aviation aircraft in the world increases, as does the number of airline passengers.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is the agency responsible for regulating air safety in the United States, has compiled a database of information regarding bird strikes on aircraft. This database contains all reported bird (and other wildlife) strikes to U.S. civil aircraft and to aircraft of foreign carriers who are involved in a wildlife strike in the USA.
During the period of 1990 to 2007, the database amassed reports from over 80,000 wildlife strikes, which occurred in the vicinity of over 1,550 different airports. The FAA believes that this number represents only about 20% of the strikes that have actually occurred.
From this database, the FAA has assembled the following facts about bird strikes on civil aircraft:
In 2007 alone, the were over 7,600 bird and other wildlife strikes reported for civil aircraft either flying over the USA or American-registered planes flying over other countries.
During the period 1990-2007, bird and other wildlife strikes cost USA civil aviation over $620 million per year.
Over 5,000 bird strikes were reported by the U.S. Air Force in 2007.
Over 219 people have been killed world-wide as a result of bird strikes since 1988.
Only about 20% of bird strikes to civil aircraft at passenger service airports in the USA are reported. Less than 5% of bird strikes at General Aviation airports are reported.
From 1990-2004, airlines in the USA reported 31 incidents in which pilots had to dump fuel to lighten the airplane’s load during a precautionary or emergency landing after striking birds either on takeoff or while climbing immediately after takeoff. An average of 11,600 gallons of jet fuel was released in each of these dumps.
Three-quarters of the reported bird strikes which caused damage to US civil aircraft between 1990 and 2007 were caused by species from three bird groups: waterfowl (31%), gulls (26%), and raptors (18%).
About 90% of all bird strikes in the U.S. are by species which are protected federally under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Over 1,400 Canada geese strikes with civil aircraft have been reported in USA, 1990-2007. Over 40% of these strike events involved multiple birds.
A 12-lb Canada goose struck by a150-mph aircraft at lift-off generates the same amount of force as that which occurs when a 1,000-lb weight is dropped from a height of 10 feet.
Over 100 bald eagle strikes with civil aircraft have been reported in USA, 1990-2007. Mean body mass of bald eagles = 9.1 lbs (male); 11.8 lbs (female).