Bird Strikes | The Risks and Mitigation

Bird Strikes | The Risks and Mitigation

bird strike

Bird strikes in aviation has a strong impact - the impact between an aircraft and one or more wild animals - mainly birds (the so-called “bird-strikes”)- all over the world. 

The presence of   Birds and other animals on and near an airport poses a serious hazard to aviation safety, especially aircraft's operational safety. 

Bird Strike on aircraft results in significant costs, in terms of human lives, and material damage to aircraft.


Scientists think that birds own their ability to identify threats to both instinct and learning. Experiments suggest that young birds may be genetically wired to avoid risks. But they need to watch experienced birds in action refine their know-how.

By watching their parents in the act of mobbing, youngsters gain critical knowledge that may save their skin. Of course, this ability works for non-bird strike hazards.


This short introduction about bird strikes to aviation. Therefore, I am sure you may need to know more about this subject. 


In this article, I will let you know the basics information about Bird Strikes, Bird Strikes mitigation measures, and what kind of advanced technologies are used.


What is the meaning of bird strike?

A bird strike is defined as a collision between a bird and an aircraft which is in flight or on a takeoff or landing roll.

Simply, when bird hits the aircraft (during the flight) at different points it's called " Bird Strikes ".


How Dangerous is a Bird Strike?

Most impacts between aircraft and wildlife – such as “bird-strike”- occur at airports and in their immediate vicinity. Approximately 80% of impacts occur below 300ft altitude during take-off and landing.


The risk of impact, during a landing or take-off phase, is linked to several contingent factors: type of birds presents in the airport, the intensity of the activity, the number of individuals, the direction, the position, and in general to factors typical of the airport under consideration.


Furthermore, contingent factors include geographical location, proximity to foraging areas for the bird or sources of attraction such as landfills and cultivated fields, the presence of wetlands, the fact of being positioned along particular migration routes for certain bird species, and the management of airport sediments and much more. 


I will give you an example of “bird-strike” as one of many wildlife strikes to aviation. When birds hit the aircraft turbine and get caught in the engine, this event is referred to as a jet engine ingestion (since the bird is ingested by the engine). 

After being stuck in the engine, the birds can disrupt the rotatory motion of the fan blades, resulting in a partial or complete failure of that engine.


How to Prevent Bird Strikes on Aircraft?

The main strategy on which the action of mitigation of the risk of bird-strike in airports is based on the daily monitoring of birds. The monitoring is supported by the various detection systems and the ecological-environmental management plan of the airport to minimize the sources of attraction for birds and make the airport a hostile place for bird presence.


In aviation safety, technology is one of the perfect three safety defenses [ beside Regulation and Training]. So advanced technology is used in new detection systems to strengthen safety measures in mitigation of the risk of bird-strike in airports.  


 Bird Strike risk reduction strategies may base on one or many of the following control measures:


1- Bird & Drone Detection Systems

Using of bird's detection radar or detection systems.  Detection systems are capable of effectively recognizing and classifying bird species and calculating their trajectory, and immediately orchestrating the actions required to remove species from the area to be kept safe (Such as B.C.M.S VENTUR system).



2- Habitat Management

This can be influenced by specific measures e.g., shorter vegetation, the netting of water reservoirs, passive bird control measures on building, and falconry.


3- Use of Predators

The use of peregrine and other falcons with various teams distributed over the day can create hostilities in the affected territory. 


4- Bird Robots

Flying models in the form of predators are used and controlled by experienced pilots. 


5- Acoustic Methods - Predator Cry Systems

Bird reacts to acoustic stimuli. This is used by predator's cry- and blank firing systems. These imitate predators and the warning cries of the birds to be controlled.


6- Acoustic Methods - Directional Acoustic Systems

Acoustic Device acoustic signals up to 150 dB can be directionally beamed up to 1,500 meters. It transmits bird cries and other noises that disturb birds.


7- Visual Methods

Research has shown that birds perceive light at 532nm wavelength particularly well. Using a laser system is effective. The laser must only be directed downwards to be safe.


8- Netting

For historical reasons, airports are often close to landfill sites. These are irresistible attractions to birds. The only solution is the large-area netting of the landfills, and also the neighboring reservoirs, hangars, and other buildings.

9- Bird Houses

Birds houses is used to attract birds so that they can be easily controlled and the population reduced by exchanging the eggs.


Additional methods may be used by the airport authority following the National Civil Aviation Authority requirements.


Pilots can avoid flocks of birds by delaying takeoff or landing in the presence of bird activity. Below 10,000 feet, Pilots should keep speed below 250 knots if operationally possible. Below 2,000 feet, Pilots should climb at the maximum rate to reduce the flight time exposure to a strike hazard.



Preventing is better than a cure, in another word, keeping aircraft and birds apart where possible by using advanced technology besides other traditional bird strike risk reduction measures.


Airport authorities should use bird detection systems and it should be associated with an appropriate policy of ecological and environmental management of the airport, established based on accurate and detailed naturalistic research.



Further reading:

-  ICAO Airport Services Manual, Part 3 — Wildlife Hazard Management (Doc 9137).

Maged Saeed AL-Hadabi

I’m Instructor / Maged Saeed Al-Hadabi. ​ Air Cargo / IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations / Safety Management System Senior Instructor, Auditor [ Yemen Airways] . Approved IATA DGR/ SMS Instructor by Yemen Civil Aviation Authority. We hope you find Aviation Professional website not only informative, but interesting and helpful as well. Leave your comment , thank you.

Previous Post Next Post

Contact Form