October 1, 2019
As we enter the fall season, the time for migratory bird activity is upon us. Very few pilots have had any training on bird activity, bird strikes, or reporting of bird strikes. While not a frequently occurring hazard, there are an average of 26 bird strikes per day that are reported across the United States. Imagine how many strikes that go unreported. Now, lets run through a few facts on bird strikes.
• There are up to 20 billion birds!
• Worldwide, bird strikes are responsible for causing $1.2 billion (yes, with a B) in damage EACH YEAR!
• Bird strikes have been the cause of more than 200 aircraft accidents and over 250 deaths since 1988.
• Bird strikes can be hazardous to large aircraft and have brought down an Airbus A320 and a B52 among others.
• 92% of bird strikes occur below 3,000 feet AGL
• The highest recorded bird strike took place at 37,000 feet
If you are talking to ATC when you have a bird strike, please report it. They will need some information from you, such as the species of the bird, if possible, and the direction of flight and altitude of the birds. Additional information they will include in the broadcast (and should already know if you were receiving services from them) will be your type of aircraft, location, and altitude. If you are just coming up on frequency for this reason, include your full callsign, type, location, and altitude. ATC will then broadcast a bird advisory to all aircraft in the area to make them aware of the hazard.
Once you get on the ground, please also report your bird strike to the FAA online wildlife database. If you need the web site it is in the AIM. Visit http://www.wildlife.faa.gov/strikenew.aspx to make a new report or visit http://www.wildlife.faa.gov/ to view data on bird strikes for your own education and curiosity. Unfortunately, only an estimated 20% of bird strikes are reported. This data can be very useful, so please help out!