Explained What Are Bird Strikes And How Dangerous Are They


New Delhi: On June 19, two emergency landings took place, one in Patna, second one in Delhi. Both the emergency landings were caused by bird-hits. The incidents are now being probed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) as urged airports to strictly follow guidelines on wildlife hazard management to ensure aircraft operational safety. A report published by the DGCA said nearly 1,400 planes are hit by birds every year.Also Read – Captain Monica Khanna’s Sully Moment: Hailed For Overweight Landing Of SpiceJet Flight Boeing 737

What are bird strikes and how can they affect flights

A bird or any airborne animal (bats) striking a plane refers to bird hit. A bird hit can be dangerous as it can damage the plane’s turbine and can cause fire if the bird gets stuck in the engine. A survey by International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) which was conducted in 91 countries revealed that least 34 cases of bird hits are reported across the globe everyday. The annual loss due to bird hit cases amount to over $1 billion. However, 92 per cent cases of bird hits do not cause any major damage, according to the survey. Also Read – Boeing Flight Had Engine Issues, No Bird Hit: Spicejet Passenger

Official data stated that 1,453 suspected and confirmed wildlife strike incidents were reported in 2021, according to a report by The Indian Express. A similar data published by DGCA about animal strikes revealed that 15 cases were reported in 2020 and 29 cases were seen in 2021, a rise of 93.33 per cent. Also Read – Spicejet Flight SG723 Catches Fire While Takeoff: What Happened in 22 Minutes

DGCA’s advisory to airport amid bird hit cases

In view of the recent bird hit cases, the DGCA urged all airports to review their wildlife hazard management plan. “All airports are requested to review their wildlife hazard management plan for any gap and ensure strict implementation of strategies for wildlife hazard management within and also outside the airfield,” the DGCA said.

On Sunday (June 19), an IndiGo airline that had taken off from Guwahati had to return back to Guwahati after suffering a bird hit. On the same day, a Delhi-bound SpiceJet also suffered a bird strike leading to one of its engines getting damaged and pilots making an emergency landing back at Patna airport.

How to spot signs of bird hits during flight

According to Boeing.comfollowing are the signs of bird strikes that passengers can look for while onboard a flight:

  • Birds seen in close proximity to the airplane or colliding with the airplane, birds on windshield or a cracked windshield
  • Vibration of airframe or engine
  • Noise of strike or noise attributed to resulting damage such as the engine surging.
  • Smoke or Odor should also make you cautious

Measures taken to prevent bird hits

  • Repel the birds: Many airports use sounds as a way of distracting birds such as by using screamers and loudspeakers. Singapore Airport uses gun shots and loudspeakers producing 20 different types of sounds to avoid birds from the path of the plane.
  • Modify birds’ habitat: By removing the source of food for birds from near the airports, flocks of birds can be avoided from the path of airplanes.
  • Laser Guns: Laser guns produce light and sound that distracts birds from the path of the plane. Surat Airport uses these guns.
  • Shooters: Many airports in the world also appoint shooters to shoot and kill the birds. Lahore Airport appointed 12 bird shooters in 2020 to kill the birds.

Trivia

The first-ever reported bird strike happened on September 7, 1905, as recorded by Orville Wright in his diary. He was flying over a corn field when his aircraft hit a bird near Dayton, Ohio in USA. The first reported mammal strike occurred on 25 July 1909, when a farm dog ran into the spinning propeller of the aircraft of the first flight across the English Channel from France.

A case reported on January 15, 2009 in America was the center of world’s attention when a US Airways flight 1549, flying over the New York city got hit by a bird and its engine caught fire. The pilot had to make an emergency landing in the Hudson lake which prevented loss of life.

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