Airplanes Encounter Nearly 30,000 Bird and Wildlife Strikes Each Year

On average, nearly 2,500 bird strikes and wildlife encounters occur between flights each month. This, according to a data released by the FAA that highlights 112,387 thousand bird strikes by up to 460 different species of birds between January 1990 and November 2008. But the FAA National Wildlife Database disclaims that its data tracks only […]

On average, nearly 2,500 bird strikes and wildlife encounters occur between flights each month. This, according to a data released by the FAA that highlights 112,387 thousand bird strikes by up to 460 different species of birds between January 1990 and November 2008. But the FAA National Wildlife Database disclaims that its data tracks only about 20% of all incidents have been reported during this time. This means there were roughly 561,935 strikes that could have occured during the 227 month period.

The issue of bird strikes on planes was elevated after US Airways Flight 1549 was forced to land in the Hudson River in New York City on January 15, 2009. The bird collision occured with an Airbus A 320. Based on the FAA database for the state of New York, 5,162 bird collisions occurred between aircraft and 191 different specifies of birds between January 1990 and November 2008 (remember, multiply that number by 5 to determine the total number of collisions that actually occur).

In February 2009, John E. Ostrom, the Chairman of the Bird Strike Committee – USA, identified that airplane strikes with birds and other wildlife has increased in recent years with the success of environmental programs. Ostrom concluded that the issue of aircraft/wildlife will require a collaborative effort by all aviation stakeholders with a major investment in education, research and development. This, in prepared marks delivered to the Subcommittee on Aviation, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, U.S. House of Representatives. Ostrom is also manager of airside operations at Minneapolis- St. Paul International Airport.

In a statement on the issue, the FAA indicated its plans to work with the aviation community to find ways to improve and strengthen bird strike repoting.

So how many bird strikes and wildlife encouters occured with flights in states where business travelers use the nation’s busiest airports elsewhere in the U.S.?

State Strikes Species Busiest Airport in State
California 8,075 192 Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
Colorado 3,145 110 Denver International Airport (DEN)
Georgia 1,544 95 The William B Hartsfield International Airport (ATL)
Illinois 4,287 135 Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
Texas 7,289 177 Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)

Source: National Wildlife Strike Database Qujery Select, 4/24/09 (search your state)

Originally Published 2009

Rob is editor of Business Travel Destinations. He reviews international destinations for meetings and events -- where business travelers go, the hotels where they stay and their lifestyle preferences on the road. Rob was previously the event planning guide for About.com (owned by The New York Times Company) from 2007 - 2011. His articles also appear in business travel publications and travel sites internationally.