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Small Birds Pose Huge Challenges To Civil Aviation

Bird collisions are increasingly frequent costing $1.2 billion in damages annually


What's going on?

Birds colliding with civilian flights are getting increasingly common. United States’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data showed that in 2018, there were 14,661 collisions with birds reported. Over the past 20 years, 106 civilian deaths worldwide were associated with these collisions, and the damage costs an estimate of a whopping $1.2 billion a year.


Since the Miracle on the Hudson incident in 2009, these numbers have been steadily increasing. It also served as a wake-up call to the airports to start documenting these bird strikes. The reason for the increasing collisions is caused by factors such as increases in flights and changing migratory patterns, as aircraft are becoming bigger, faster, and quieter. The aviation industry is particularly concerned that growth in bird populations could continue to pose a threat to aircraft. Biologists and aviation safety officials are continually trying to steer birds away in the way of flight paths.


Since 2009, the FAA has spent about $350 million to help airports fulfill required wildlife management, and most of the larger airports now hire wildlife biologists. Studies are also being done to integrate avian radar systems into the control tower. Some airports, like the ones in New York, have experimented with using avian radars to help their control teams identify problems. While experts are hopeful that advance avian radar systems can help aircraft avoid bird flocks, there is no denying that humans are competing for airspace with birds.