LifestyleBird strikes: The unseen threat to everyday aviation

Bird strikes: The unseen threat to everyday aviation

Collisions with birds can threaten flight safety
Collisions with birds can threaten flight safety
Images source: © Adobe Stock | Murat Erhan Okcu
ed. NGU

19 June 2024 19:13

A collision between an airplane and a bird is a common and real threat. We explain how often such incidents occur, where they usually take place, and what happens when they do.

As reported by CNN Travel, Orville Wright recorded the first collision with a bird in 1905 over a cornfield in Ohio. However, experts admit that similar incidents likely occurred earlier. Currently, it is still not possible to completely protect against such situations.

When and where do bird collisions occur?

Considering the number of airplanes that fly worldwide every day, it’s no surprise that bird collisions occur daily. Such incidents happen much more frequently in the spring and autumn, which is related to the seasonal migrations of birds.

According to the International Civil Aviation Organization, up to 90% of bird collisions occur near airports. These situations most commonly happen when airplanes take off or land, and much less frequently when they are at cruising altitude.

Most bird collisions occur early in the morning or sunset when birds are most active. Pilots are trained to be particularly vigilant at dawn and dusk.

Many airplanes are equipped with radars that allow them to track bird flocks. However, this technology is not perfect for several reasons. First, it does not work at higher altitudes, and second, it does not detect individual flying birds.

What are the potential consequences of a bird collision?

The consequences of an airplane colliding with a bird depend on both the speed of the aircraft and the weight of the bird. However, the results can be extremely dangerous.

The most commonly used jet engines in passenger airplanes are turbofan engines. These engines contain a series of fan blades that compress the air. A collision with a bird or an animal that is ingested into one of these engines can cause serious damage to the fan blades, potentially leading to the failure of the entire engine.

If animals damage one engine unit, it does not threaten flight safety, and the pilot can continue the journey. The problem arises when birds get into both engines and destroy them. In such a case, an emergency landing will be necessary.

Source: CNN Travel

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