After US Airways 'miracle on the Hudson,' concern grows about bird strikes
For the first time since records have been kept, the number of instances in which aircraft hit birds or other wildlife could top 10,000 for 2009. Increasingly, pilots worry about 'feathered bullets'.
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New York’s Kennedy Airport reports the most number of bird strikes. Sacramento International Airport in California (which is along the Pacific Flyway for migratory birds) also has a high number of reported bird strikes.Skip to next paragraph
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Wildlife populations growing
“Many populations of wildlife species commonly involved in strikes have increased markedly in the last few decades and adapted to living in urban environments, including airports. For example, from 1980 to 2007, the resident (non-migratory) Canada goose population in the USA and Canada increased at a mean rate of 7.3 percent per year. Other species showing significant mean annual rates of increase included bald eagles (4.6 percent), wild turkeys (12.1 percent), turkey vultures (2.2 percent), American white pelicans (2.9 percent), double-crested cormorants (4.0 percent), and sandhill cranes (5.0 percent). Thirteen of the 14 bird species in North America with mean body masses greater than 8 lbs have shown significant population increases over the past three decades. The white-tailed deer population increased from a low of about 350,000 in 1900 to over 30 million in the past decade.”
If a 12-pound goose strikes an airliner going 150 miles per hour at lift-off, the force would be that of a 1,000-pound weight dropped from a height of 10 feet, according to the FAA.
But it doesn’t take a fat goose to do major damage.
The Bird Strike Committee calls starlings “feathered bullets.” Starlings, which reach a late-summer population of 150 million-plus, are the second-most abundant bird in North America.
Airports have been installing high-tech gear to discourage birds from hanging around runways, but at least one airport is trying something else.
“She’s chased flocks of geese into the water,” said Bob Hood, the airport’s wildlife manager. “She’s really good at her job and she really likes her job.”
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