With the recent incident involving possible multiple bird strikes to a US Airways flight which resulted in not only irreparable damage to the Airbus A320 aircraft, but also a successful ditching of the plane over water, many may wonder - What is a bird strike, and what impact does it have on airlines?
Definition of bird strike - A bird strike or bird aircraft strike hazard is a collision between a bird (one or more than one) and an aircraft. Geese and gulls are two birds that often cause damage because of their weight and size.
Why is a bird, or flock of birds coming into contact with an airplane an issue? Birds are a threat to safety for crew and passengers on board as they can cause a great deal of damage to an airplane in a short period of time. Sometimes the lack of time to recover can lead to injuries or fatalities.
When do bird strikes occur? Bird strikes most often occur
during take-off or landing, or during low altitude flight, when an airplane is most likely to be sharing the same airspace as a bird. Occasionally, they occur at higher altitudes.
Take-offs can be particularly dangerous, given the higher speeds and the angle of ascent. If a bird gets caught in an engine during take-off it can greatly affect the functionality of the engine.
Not all encounters with a moving airplane and a moving bird lead to major damage. The most common time for damaging bird strikes to occur is during spring and fall migration periods when birds are flying in groups.
What parts of an airplane are most often affected by bird strikes? Usually the nose, engine or forward part of an aircraft's wing are affected.
What can airlines do to reduce the incidence of bird strikes? Airports have initiatives that are commonly known as bird management or bird control. Areas around the aerodrome are made as unappealing as possible to birds. Also, devices are used to scare off birds - sounds, lights, decoy animals, and dogs are a few examples.