WASHINGTON, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- Changes must be made to scale back collisions of airplanes with flying birds that damage the craft and kill passengers, a U.S. transportation official says.
A report by the inspector general of the U.S. Transportation Department makes 10 recommendations for the Federal Aviation Administration to reduce the increasing number bird strikes, The Washington Post reported.
The report noted that "catastrophic failure" can occur when animals are ingested into an engine, adding. "Increases in the populations of hazardous wildlife species continue to challenge the airports' ability to provide a safe operating environment."
At Washington's three major airports, nearly 75 commercial planes have hit birds this year while taking off or landing. Notably, flights of both Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were interrupted when birds were sucked into engines or struck the plane.
Some $458 million has been spent in the past five years by the FAA to control birds around airports.
The FAA defended steps it has taken to cut hazards to aircraft.
In a statement, the agency said that while the total number of reported strikes is up, the number of damaging strikes is down.
The FAA said it had already instituted a majority of the inspector general's recommendations.