By Oliver Clark.
The number of wildlife strikes reported to the FAA by US airports rose 3.2% in the first four months of 2011 and have almost doubled in the 12 months up to April 30, 2011 compared with the year before, data reveals.
Airports reported 1,737 incidents of commercial and private aircraft hitting birds and other animals between January 1 and April 30, 2011, compared with 1,680 in the same period in 2009-2010, according to the FAA Wildlife Database.
In the 12 months up to the end of April 2011, reports of civil aviation wildlife strikes across the US rose to 9,951, a 48% increase compared with those reported between April 30, 2009 and April 29, 2010.
James White, deputy director of the FAA’s office of airport safety and standards, told Airport World the spike could be due to a number of factors, including increased levels of reporting by airports, which are voluntary and have risen from 20% previously to 39% in 2011, and the successful wildlife preservation efforts in the US and Canada
“The significant strikes [those that cause aircraft damage or injury] are down even though the total number of strikes has increased,” White said.
"We are very pleased that despite large increases in the bird population the strikes are down.”
White said improved safety levels meant ‘significant strikes’, such as the one with a flock of birds in 2009 that caused a US Airways airline to lose power and ditch in the Hudson, had fallen from 765 in 2000 to 601 in 2009.
Chris Oswald, ACI NA’s vice president of safety and technical operations said: “There are likely numerous causal factors at work here including traffic increases as the bureau of transportation statistics has cited (airline system traffic is up about 2.5% from this time last year), and increased awareness of reporting requirements both on the part of airports and airlines. FAA has made a push with the airlines to be more diligent about reporting over the past six months, so that might be at work as well."
Other trends revealed by the data for the first four months of 2011 include the time a strike was mostly to occur. When this information was recorded, most incidents were reported during the day (4,555), followed by night, (2,195), dusk (259) and dawn (183). Of those reports that state the phase of flight during which the strike occured, most happened during the approach (3,032), landing roll (1,332) and take off 1,253.
The figures come two months after Jeffrey Guzzetti, assistant inspector general for aviation at the US Department of Transportation, announced the start of a review of the implementation of the FAA's Wildlife Hazard Mitigation Program.
The review will assess the effectiveness of the FAA’s policies and guidance for monitoring, reporting and mitigating wildlife hazards. Encourage greater cooperation between Federal, state and local government bodies and review the current levels of enforcement on airports to report a strike.