Bird Strike Incidents
The first reported bird-aircraft strike dates back to the Wright Brothers diaries, “Orville … flew 4,751 meters in 4 minutes 45 seconds, four complete circles. Twice passed over fence into Beard’s cornfield. Chased flock of birds for two rounds and killed one which fell on top of the upper surface and after a time fell off when swinging a sharp curve.”
On April 3, 1912, while making an exhibition flight over Long Beach, California, aero-pioneer Cal Rodgers flew into a flock of birds, causing the plane to crash into the ocean. His neck was broken and his thorax damaged by the engine of the airplane. The aircraft in this last flight was the spare Model B, according to contemporary records, his was the 127th airplane fatality since aviation began and the 22nd American aviator to die in an accident. He was the first pilot who fatally crashed as a result of a bird strike.
According to data collected by the Federal Aviation Administration and the US Bird Strike Committee:
- More than 219 people traveling by airplane have been killed worldwide as a result of bird strikes since 1988.
- Between 1990 and 2009, bird and other wildlife strikes cost U.S. civil aviation more than $650 million per year.
- About 5,000 bird strikes were reported by the U.S. Air Force in 2010.
- More than 9,000 bird and other wildlife strikes were reported for U.S. civil aircraft in 2010.
- Between 1990 and 2004, U.S. airlines reported 31 incidents in which pilots had to dump fuel to lighten load during a precautionary or emergency landing after striking birds on takeoff or climb. An average of 11,600 gallons of jet fuel was released in each of these dumps.
- Waterfowl (31 percent), gulls (25 percent), raptors (18 percent), and pigeons/doves (7 percent) represented 81 percent of the reported bird strikes causing damage to U.S. civil aircraft between 1990 and 2009.
- About 90 percent of all bird strikes in the United States are by species federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
- Between 1990 and 2009, 415 different species of birds were involved in strikes with civil aircraft in the United States that were reported to the Federal Aviation Administration.