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Trying To Bird-Proof Airline Flights

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, June 09, 2009 12:18 PM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: US Airways, Emergency Landings, Bird Strikes, Aviation, Mass Transit, Flying, Protecting the Public

Avoiding bird strikes is one focus of 3-day NTSB hearings.

Bird-Proofing Flight



IMAGE SOURCE:  Wikimedia Commons/ Canada goose/ author: Alan Wilson 


Last January, the dramatic landing of US Airways Flight 1549 made the nation aware of the dangers birds pose to airliners approaching and leaving airports.  

The A-320 had just left LaGuardia Airport in New York when, five minutes into the flight, it struck a flock of migrating Canadian geese. Both engines lost thrust. Captain Chesley Sullenberger’s fast thinking saved all 155 people aboard by making an emergency landing in the Hudson River.

Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will begin three days of hearings into the increasing likelihood of collisions with birds.

Bird Strikes Double

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently released reports that bird strikes by airplanes have more than doubled at 13 major U.S. airports in the last decade. 

11 people have died since 1990 from airplane collisions with birds or deer on the runway, among the more than 89,000 bird-strike incidents.

Pressure to release the information came after birds took out both engines aboard the US Air Flight 1549.

NTSB Hearings

More airliners are taking to the skies at a time when environmental regulations have caused bird populations to soar.   Some leading options to avoid the potential deadly collisions in the air include:

  • Developing bird detecting radar to help airports manage bird populations
  • Develop engines to survive bigger birds.  Newer engines can survive an eight-pound bird hit.  Canadian geese can weight more than 15 pounds, but engines too heavy cannot fly

Also on the agenda is whether the FAA needs to revisit double engine failures such as the A-320 experienced.    

In the US Airways airline case, first officer, Jeffrey Skiles, made it only partially through a checklist designed to identify and correct the problem before the pilot made the forced landing.  An airline cruising at a typical altitude 20,000 feet may have more time to make it through a checklist of many steps to try and restart the engines.   

The Safety Board will also open the public docket at the start of the hearing.  The public may view and download the docket contents on the web under the "FOIA Reading Room" at http://www.ntsb.gov/Info/foia_fri-dockets.htm at that time. #

1 Comment

Posted by Mike Licht
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 11:57 AM EST

Canada Geese can down the most sophisticated aircraft.



Comments for this article are closed.

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