Bird surge increases airplane hits

WASHINGTON, April 7 (UPI) -- Serious collisions between large birds and airliners have risen sharply this decade, a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration report shows.

Richard Dolbeer, a retired U.S. Department of Agriculture wildlife biologist who created the FAA database on bird-plane collisions in 1990, says growing populations of large birds are a factor, USA Today reported Tuesday.


"In most cases it's going to be these large birds that are going to cause a catastrophe or a significant strike event," Dolbeer said.

FAA records show aircraft collisions involving geese and other large birds have increased 62 percent, from an average of 323 a year in the 1990s to 524 per year from 2000 to 2007. Serious engine damage caused by large birds also is up from about 10 incidents per year in the 1990s to more than 12 a year since 2000. There were more than 58 million U.S. flights in 2007.

In 2007, there were 190 bird strikes causing damage to aircraft, but only 15 damaged a plane's engine.

USA Today reported the FAA has been reluctant to release data on plane-bird collisions since a US Airways plane made an emergency landing on the Hudson River in New York City after running into geese shortly after takeoff. The FAA proposed in March to permanently bar the information's release, saying it may be misleading and could cause airports not to report bird collisions.


FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said information requests under the Freedom of Information Act have not been denied and that significant strikes are a very small part of total bird strikes.

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