Bird Strike Hazard

Yesterday’s narrow escape for 155 people aboard a US Airways Airbus 320 aircraft forced to make an emergency landing on the Hudson River in New York City after its engines were reportedly struck by a flock of geese is a reminder of the significant safety risk that bird and wildlife strikes pose for civil aviation around the world today. As noted previously  here at Terms & Conditions, bird hazard may not be the first risk that comes to mind when stepping aboard an aircraft, but bird strikes are a major risk exposure for airlines and their insurers. Globally, wildlife strikes have killed more than 219 people and destroyed over 200 aircraft since 1988. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), some 82,057 strikes were reported to civil aircraft in the U.S. from 1990 to 2007. Birds were involved in 97.5 percent of the reported strikes, terrestrial mammals in 2.1 percent, bats in 0.3 percent and reptiles in 0.1 percent. The number of strikes annually reported more than quadrupled from 1,759 in 1990 to a record 7,666 in 2007. For the 18-year period (1990-2007), reports were received of 43 aircraft destroyed or damaged beyond repair due to wildlife strikes. The annual cost of wildlife strikes to the U.S. civil aviation industry is estimated at in excess of $628 million. The growing potential frequency and severity of wildlife-aircraft collisions is not that surprising given that natural habitats around airports tend to be home to increasing populations of large bird species that have adapted to living in urban environments. At the same time air traffic worldwide has increased substantially, adding to the risk. The Bird Strike Committee annual meeting includes a wide variety of presentations on how to mitigate bird strike hazard. Check out further I.I.I. facts on aviation.  

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