Bird Strike and Aviation Safety

Bird strikes are a significant hazard to aviation safety, causing damage to aircraft and endangering the lives of passengers and crew. A bird strike occurs when a bird collides with an aircraft during flight, takeoff, or landing. These collisions can cause significant damage to the aircraft, including engine failure, structural damage, and windshield cracks. Bird strikes can also result in human fatalities and injuries, making them a critical concern for aviation safety.

The risk of bird strikes is present in all parts of the world, but it is more prevalent in areas where birds congregate in large numbers, such as near airports, coastal regions, and wetlands. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there were over 17,000 reported bird strikes in the United States alone in 2020. However, it is estimated that the actual number of bird strikes is much higher, as many go unreported or are not detected.

US Airways Flight 1549

The consequences of bird strikes can be severe. In 2009, a US Airways flight taking off from New York’s LaGuardia airport collided with a flock of geese, resulting in engine failure and a forced water landing on the Hudson River. Fortunately, all 155 passengers and crew survived, but the incident serves as a reminder of the potential danger of bird strikes.

 US Airways Flight 1549.  Bird Strike
US Airways Flight 1549

To mitigate the risk of bird strikes, airports and airlines take various measures. These include habitat management to discourage bird populations from congregating near airports, using bird repellents and scare devices, and implementing procedures to reduce the likelihood of bird strikes, such as altering flight paths and takeoff and landing times. Additionally, aircraft manufacturers design and test their products to withstand bird strikes, and pilots receive training on how to respond in the event of a bird strike.

Despite these measures, bird strikes remain a significant hazard to aviation safety, and research continues to identify new ways to reduce the risk. For example, the FAA has sponsored research on developing new technologies to detect and track birds near airports, as well as efforts to create more effective bird repellents.

In conclusion, bird strikes are a critical concern for aviation safety, and efforts to mitigate their risk are ongoing. While airports and airlines take measures to reduce the likelihood of bird strikes, the unpredictable nature of bird behavior and the prevalence of birds in many areas mean that the risk can never be completely eliminated. Vigilance and continued research will be necessary to ensure that aviation safety remains a top priority.


“Bird Strike.” Federal Aviation Administration, https://www.faa.gov/airports/southwest/airports_news_events/safety_birdstrike/.

“Bird Strike Handbook: A Guide to Understanding and Reducing the Risk of Bird Strikes.” International Civil Aviation Organization, https://www.icao.int/sustainability/Documents/Bird%20Strike%20Handbook.pdf.

“Bird Strikes.” National Transportation Safety Board, https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Pages/aviation.aspx#Bird_Strikes.

Dolbeer, Richard A. “Bird Strikes and Aviation Safety: A Critical Review of the Literature.” US Department of Agriculture, National Wildlife Research Center, 2006.

“Bird Strike.” Flight Safety Foundation, https://flightsafety.org/toolkits-resources/bird-strike/.

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