Top ten US airports reporting wildlife-aircraft collisions
The Federal Aviation Administration made big news yesterday when it released a database that details the number of collisions between wildlife and airplanes.Skip to next paragraph
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Although more than 98,000 incidents of aircraft striking birds or other wildlife since January of 1990 are reported, the number of actual collisions is undoubtedly much higher.
Why? The FAA estimates its voluntary reporting system captures only 20 percent of wildlife strikes. For more than a decade, the National Transportation Safety Board has argued for making the reporting of wildlife strikes mandatory. The lack of such a requirement is part of the reason the NTSB didn't want the database released -- it's incomplete.
But after much public pressure, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood relented and made the data public.
The FAA cautioned passengers against making too much of it. Comparing airports from the database produces an incomplete picture, the FAA says.
"If a certain airport is very diligent in reporting these kinds of events, its diligence could make it appear as if it has more bird strikes than an airport that isn't as diligent," a spokesman told the Associated Press.
Noting that such a list is inherently flawed, the following airports have reported the highest numbers of wildlife strikes since 1990.
Kendra Cross, the U.S. Department of Agriculture biologist who manages wildlife at DIA, told the Denver Post that the airport is more susceptible to bird and wildlife strikes because it covers more land than any other airport in the nation -- 49,000 acres.
It's the fifth-busiest airport in the country.
Geography also plays a role. DIA isn't an urban airport -- "We're situated right in the middle of an agricultural area," Cross said.
The Dallas Morning News reports that bird strikes at D/FW occur hundreds of times a year, but they generally do less damage than at some other airfields, according to pilots and airport officials. That's because the birds that cross the airfield or try to roost near the terminals are smaller species, such as doves and meadowlarks, said Cathy Boyles, wildlife administrator for D/FW. But the area also has larger birds such as black vultures and turkey vultures, she said.