A recent report out of Washington, D.C. confirms the little-known fact that mid-air collisions between birds and aircraft, or “bird-strikes,” are not only much more common than most people know, but they have reached a problematic level. The report, which follows last year’s highly publicized emergency river landing of a US Airways jet that struck a flock of geese, shows that FAA experts are already estimating that the total number of bird-strikes last year exceeded 10,000. This figure represents not only a record high, surpassing the previous record of just over 7,500 set two years ago, but also a sharp surge in frequency, bringing the average to around twenty seven bird-strikes per day.
According to the report, experts have identified two factors to explain the record number of strikes. First, the publicity surrounding the Hudson landing has raised awareness in the airline industry of the seriousness of the problem, causing airport and airline personnel to report bird-strikes and related incidents that they might not have in previous years. Second, government experts say increases in the populations of large bird species have also contributed to the problem.
These incidents have only recently received media attention, but they have become a serious problem in aviation, causing multiple deaths and injuries through the destruction of several airplanes and helicopters last year. In fact, we currently represent a family that lost a loved one in a tragic helicopter crash caused by a bird-strike. Although the reports have identified reasons for the increase, relatively little has been done about it. The FAA has begun to focus on preventing birds from coming near airports in the first place, but after discovering over ninety airports that failed to even complete bird-strike assessments, experts admit that more needs to be done.