how to avoid bird strike in aviation

How Birds Can Damage Aircraft and Impede Flight

Bird strikes have the potential to seriously harm aircraft, resulting in costly repairs, delays, or, in extreme circumstances, a crash.

The size of the bird, the plane’s speed, and other variables all affect how a bird strike affects an aircraft. Larger bird strikes can shatter windshields and even disable an engine, while smaller birds may only cause small dents or scratches. Bird damage to aircraft can also interfere with navigation systems and interfere with communication signals.

Because of their size and weight, birds can damage internal components, making engines particularly vulnerable to bird strikes. Bird ingestion, which occurs when birds are drawn into jet engines, can harm the engine’s blades and lower altitude and speed. Bird strikes can even result in engine failure, which would mean losing power and having less control over the aircraft.

Since most aircraft can operate with just one engine, losing one usually does not portend disaster. Nonetheless, there have been a few cases where a bird strike led to dual engine failure, like the notorious US Airways flight 1549. The aircraft in question lost all power and had to make an emergency landing, which turned out to be successful and was subsequently named the “Miracle on the Hudson.” ”.

Although dual engine failure is extremely uncommon, any power outage can compromise a flight’s security and safety. It is worthwhile to take preventative action to lessen the likelihood of bird strikes in order to prevent the need for expensive repairs and subsequent emergency landings.

Bird strikes have the potential to weaken an aircraft’s frame structurally, leading to expensive repairs or even mishaps. Aircraft travel at extremely high speeds, and if there is a collision while accelerating, a bird may break through the windshield’s glass, putting the crew in danger.

Apart from swarming into engines, birds can also injure propellers, reducing the aircraft’s efficiency. A propeller’s blades may bend or break due to the force of a bird strike, which will reduce lift and thrust.

Ailerons, elevators, and rudder are examples of flight control surfaces that can sustain damage from bird strikes. Bird strikes can affect high lift devices, which are deployed during takeoff and landing. If a bird becomes lodged in the mechanism, it will not be able to retract. This may make the aircraft less maneuverable and hinder its capacity to turn or ascend in specific directions.

Bird strikes can damage nose cones, which can impair the aircraft’s performance and create turbulence. A nose cone struck by a bird may lose some of its aerodynamic efficiency, increasing drag and decreasing speed overall.

Why Use Flight Control for Bird Strike Prevention

Flight Control® Max is easy to apply, cost-effective, and long-lasting.

To reduce the risk of bird strike damage and prevent bird hazards at airports, try Flight Control® Max, a tried-and-true non-lethal method of repelling birds like geese. Flight Control® Max is easy to apply, cost-effective, and long-lasting. Bird populations can be successfully relocated and the risk of bird strikes greatly decreased with Flight Control®.

Table of Contents

Pilots and birds share the sky, and there is a genuine and frequent risk of bird strikes. For the bird, it’s a different story, but most of them go unreported and cause little to no damage to the aircraft. A bird strike, also known as a bird hit, bird strike, or BASH (Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard), is a potentially fatal event that can occur to anyone at any time. Reports of bird strikes are increasing and are sometimes featured in the media. For several months, the media focused on Captain “Sully” Sullenberger’s historic landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River in January 2009.

Wildlife strikes also pose a threat to aircraft. It is not uncommon for a deer or other animal to wander onto the runway in rural and occasionally urban areas. Pilots need to exercise extra caution and notify other pilots and ground staff of the hazard after taking preventative measures. Although bird and wildlife strikes are largely unpredictably occurring, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood that they will occur. This subject report develops this idea.

As usual, you can contact the AOPA Pilot Information Center with any questions by calling 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672).

Orville Wright is thought to have been the first pilot to be involved in a bird strike in 1908 It wasn’t until 1912 that the first known bird strike death was documented. When Cal Rogers, the man who created aviation history by flying across the country, was doing a demonstration flight in California, his Wright Flyer ran into a seagull. When the aviation industry started using gas turbines for power in the 1950s and the FAA started testing the engines for bird ingestion capabilities, the threat of bird strikes increased. About three small birds (one and a half pounds) or one medium bird (two and a half pounds) can be consumed by the engines without any problems. Currently, the FAA defines a large bird as one that weighs more than four pounds. No airplane engine is approved to consume a large bird without shutting down.

This topic report will educate readers on the dangers associated with bird and wildlife strikes as well as preventative measures. It will also cover how to file a bird or wildlife strike appropriately.


DeltaThe 112,815 who reported bird and wildlife strikes in the last 20 years may not have seriously considered the damages that could result. Additionally, the actual number of strikes is probably much larger; experts estimate that about 80 percent of them go unreported. If this estimate is accurate, in 20 years there may have been more than 500,000 strikes. Bird and wildlife strikes can be serious and have resulted in more than 350 fatalities. The aviation industry spends nearly $330 million and suffers 500,000 hours of down time each year from strikes.

Over the past 20 years, there has been a steady increase in the number of birds in the United States, including large birds. Over 5 million Canada geese live in the United States, having tripled in number over the past ten years. These geese weigh an average of 12 pounds. Between 500 million and 1 billion birds migrate across the United States annually in addition to those that reside there. For this reason, during the migratory season, which runs from July to November, there are more bird strikes. Most bird strikes happen during the day, but roughly 25% happen at night. Although they typically fly about 7,000 feet above ground level, birds can frequently be seen at altitudes above 20,000 feet. As high as 37,000 feet have been reported for bird strikes, and as high as 54,000 feet have been reported for bird sightings!

We must also keep in mind the risks of wildlife strikes. According to the FAA’s National Wildlife Strike Database, there have been 898 white-tailed deer strikes in the United States from 1990 to 2010. Deer are more active at night than during the day, and the majority of strikes occur at dusk or at night. Deer are also more active in the Fall. More than half of the total annual strikes occur from September to December.

Avoiding Bird Strikes

Approximately 90% of bird strikes occur at or close to airports, typically during takeoff or landing. Avoiding areas where there is a known risk of bird strikes is one of the first things you should do to prevent one. Checking notams for bird activity close to airports is one way to accomplish this. The FAA Airport/Facility Directory (A/FD) contains warnings regarding bird hazards. Before arriving by plane, make sure to review the A/FD if you are unfamiliar with the airport.

Other precautions against bird strikes include staying away from places like landfills and marshlands where birds tend to gather. Also, avoid flying beneath a flock of birds. Birds tend to dive when they detect danger in the atmosphere. If you are approaching a bird you should pitch up. It’s advisable to turn on your lights when flying near birds because you never know when they might notice you and react quickly. On the other hand, birds on the ground usually face the wind. They will most likely be facing away from you as you take off. The flock might take off and fly straight into your path if it gets startled.

It is also important to be familiar with the patterns of migratory birds. As stated earlier, birds migrate between the months of July and November, with the peak being Birdin September. There are four major migration routes across the United States. These routes are:

  • The Atlantic Flyway, which follows the Atlantic Coast.
  • The Mississippi Flyway, which passes through the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes,
  • The Central Flyway is located to the east of the Rockies.
  • The Pacific Flyway, which follows the West Coast.

Be Prepared

Many pilots seem to overlook the first and most crucial flying rule when involved in a bird strike: fly the aircraft Numerous accident reports exist where a pilot lost control of the aircraft or even flew it straight into the ground while trying to avoid a bird. When attempting to avoid birds, you need to maintain composure. Don’t pitch up so high that you create a stall if you are trying to avoid a flock. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure you have an emergency plan in place in case a bird strikes you if you are flying in an area known to have bird hazards. Think about every stage of flight and be prepared for each one. If you were in the air, could you reach an airport or would you have to make an emergency landing somewhere? Would you circle around or abort the takeoff?
  • Warm the windshield in cool weather to lessen the likelihood that it will break if a bird were to strike it. Additionally, when taking off or landing in areas where birds are present, think about carrying breakproof glasses or goggles with you.
  • Prior to taking any further action, regain control of the aircraft in the event of a bird strike. Remember that stall speed may rise and maneuverability may fall if the airfoils are damaged. Most importantly, fly the aircraft.

Avoiding Wildlife Strikes

Keep in mind that deer are adapted to blend in with their environment through natural camouflage. Before you have a chance to take off, a startled deer concealed in nearby trees could be on the runway at a speed of 20 to 30 mph. And when they see your landing light, their fixation on lights might keep them frozen. Because of this, be ready to abruptly cancel a takeoff at night.

Reporting a Bird or Wildlife Strike

You should contact the airport administration if you see any birds or other wildlife while you’re there. Under FAR Part 139, they are required to reduce wildlife hazards on the airport. You should also report the hazard to air traffic control. ATC has a duty under FAA Order 7110. 65, paragraph 2-1-22, to alert other pilots to the danger, as well as other automated flight service stations and ATC facilities

Recall to report any encounters with birds or wildlife only after you have safely landed on solid ground. Be sure to fill out the FAA Bird/Wildlife Strike Report. This form should be mailed to the address listed in Appendix 1 of the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM).

800 Independence Avenue, FAA, Office of Airport Safety and Standards, AAS-310 SW Washington, D. C. 20591.

Additionally, you should fill out a NASA ASRS report.

Responses to Pilots: AOPA Pilot, March 2009; Birds in the News


How do airlines prevent bird strikes?

Many airports have adopted bird control strategies to keep birds away from the airport environment, such as bird-repelling sound systems and visual deterrents like bird netting and scarecrows.

Is there a way to prevent bird strikes?

Dot Patterns and Tape. Long-lasting tape products offer an easier way to apply the correct spacing of dots across your window. Products such as those available at Feather Friendly work well in preventing collisions.

How do you deal with bird strikes?

When one occurs, pilots must first maintain control of the aircraft and then handle the emergency. It’s crucial to communicate with air traffic control to alert them and other aircraft about the strike, any debris on the runway, or the presence of more birds nearby.

How do fighter pilots avoid birds?

Radar and risk tools can also help pilots spot and avoid potential bird hazards. For instance, Doppler weather radar is increasingly used to spot bird activity along flight routes.