Bird Strike Committee-USA

 

Significant Bird and other Wildlife Strikes

The following is a selected list of wildlife strikes to civil and military aircraft.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, through an interagency agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration, compiles a database of all reported bird/wildlife strikes to U.S. civil aircraft and to foreign carriers experiencing strikes in the USA. Over 87,000 strike reports from over 1,650 airports have been compiled, 1990-2008 (over 7,500 strikes in 2008). The FAA estimates that this represents only about 20% of the strikes that have occurred. The following historical examples of strikes from 1905-1989 and examples from the database from 1990-2008 are presented to show the serious impact that strikes by birds or other wildlife can have on aircraft. These examples demonstrate the widespread and diverse nature of the problem and are not intended to criticize individual airports. Many of the strike examples reported here occurred off airport property during descent, approach or climb.

Civil Aircraft (USA)

7 September 1905.  From 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.”  This was the first reported bird-aircraft strike.  Because of the location near Dayton, Ohio and time of year, the bird struck was probably a red-winged blackbird.

3 April 1912.  Calbraith Rodgers, the first person to fly across the continental USA, was also the first to die as a result of a bird strike. On 3 April 1912, Rodgers’ Wright Pusher struck a gull, causing the aircraft to crash into the surf at Long Beach, California.  Rodgers was pinned under the wreckage and drowned.

10 March 1960.  A Lockheed Electra turbo-prop ingested European starlings into all 4 engines during takeoff from Boston Logan Airport (MA).  The plane crashed into Boston Harbor, killing 62 people.  Following this accident, the FAA initiated action to develop minimum bird ingestion standards for turbine-powered engines.

26 February 1973.  On departure from Atlanta, Georgia's Peachtree-Dekalb Airport, a Lear 24 jet struck a flock of brown-headed cowbirds attracted to a nearby trash transfer station.  Engine failure resulted.  The aircraft crashed, killing 8 people and seriously injuring 1 person on the ground.  This incident prompted the FAA to develop guidelines concerning the location of solid waste disposal facilities on or near airports. 

12 November 1975.  On departure roll from John F. Kennedy International Airport (NY), the pilot of a DC-10 aborted takeoff after ingesting gulls into 1 engine.  The plane ran off runway and caught fire as a result of engine fire and overheated brakes.  The resultant fire destroyed the aircraft.  All 138 people on board, airline personnel trained in emergency evacuation, evacuated safely.  Following this accident, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended the FAA evaluate the effect of bird ingestion on large, high-bypass, turbofan engines and the adequacy of engine certification standards.  The FAA Initiated a nationwide data collection effort to document bird strike and engine ingestion events.

25 July 1978.  A Convair 580 departing Kalamazoo Airport (MI) ingested 1 American kestrel into an engine on takeoff.  Aircraft auto-feathered and crashed in nearby field, injuring 3 of 43 passengers.

18 June 1983.  The pilot of a Bellanca 1730, landing at Clifford TX, saw 2 “buzzards” on final approach.  He added power and maneuvered to avoid them, then continued approach.  This resulted in landing beyond intended point.  The middle of runway was higher than either end; therefore, pilot was unable to see a large canine moving toward the landing area until aircraft was halfway down runway.  A go-around was initiated but the lowered landing gear hit some treetops causing the pilot to loose control.  The aircraft came to rest in a milo field about 250 yards from initial tree impact after flying through additional trees.  Aircraft suffered substantial damage, and 2 people in aircraft were seriously injured.

6 January 1985.  A Beechcraft King Air 90 departing Smith Reynolds Airport (NC) at dusk hit a large feral dog on runway just at rotation.  Aircraft suffered substantial damage.

17 March 1987.  A Boeing-737 struck an 80-pound deer at Chicago O’Hare (IL) airport.  The aircraft suffered over $114,000 in damage. 

5 November 1990.  During takeoff at Michiana Regional Airport (IN), a BA-31 flew through a flock of mourning doves.  Several birds were ingested in both engines and takeoff was aborted.  Both engines were destroyed.  Cost of repairs was $1 million and time out of service was 60 hours.

30 December 1991.  A Citation 550, taking off from Angelina County Airport (TX) struck a turkey vulture.  The strike caused major damage to #1 engine and resulting shrapnel caused minor damage to the wing and fuselage.  Cost of repairs was $550,000 and time out of service was 2 weeks.

2 February 1992.  A Piper Cherokee struck a deer at rotation during takeoff from Sandstone Municipal Airport (MN).  The pilot attempted to turn back to airport but impacted into trees just south of airport.  Aircraft was destroyed and pilot seriously injured.

3 December 1993.  A Cessna 550 struck a flock of geese during initial climb out of DuPage County Airport (IL).  Pilot heard a loud bang and aircraft yawed to left and right.  Instruments showed loss of power to #2 engine and a substantial fuel leak on the left side.  An emergency was declared and the aircraft landed at Midway Airport.  Cost to repair 2 engines was $800,000 and time out of service was about 3 months.

21 October 1994.  A Cessna 210 struck a coyote during landing roll at Higginsville Industrial Municipal Airport (MO) at night.  Nose gear collapsed, causing the propeller to hit runway, resulting in major damage to engine and crankshaft.

3 June 1995.  An Air France Concorde, at about 10 feet AGL while landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport (NY), ingested 1 or 2 Canada geese into the #3 engine.  The engine suffered an uncontained failure.  Shrapnel from the #3 engine destroyed the #4 engine and cut several hydraulic lines and control cables.  The pilot was able to land the plane safely but the runway was closed for several hours.  Damage to the Concorde was estimated at over $7 million.  The French Aviation Authority sued the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and eventually settled out of court for $5.3 million.

5 October 1996.  A Boeing-727 departing Washington Reagan National Airport (DC) struck a flock of gulls just after takeoff, ingesting at least 1 bird.  One engine began to vibrate and was shut down.  A burning smell entered the cockpit.  An emergency was declared and the aircraft, carrying 52 passengers, landed at Washington National.  Several engine blades were damaged.

7 January 1997.  An MD-80 aircraft struck over 400 blackbirds just after takeoff from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (TX).  Almost every part of the plane was hit.  Pilot declared an emergency and returned to land without event.  Substantial damage was found on various parts of the aircraft and the #1 engine had to be replaced.  The runway was closed for 1 hour.  The birds had been attracted to an un-harvested wheat field on the airport.

9 January 1998.  While climbing through 3,000 feet, following takeoff from Houston Intercontinental Airport (TX), a Boeing-727 struck a flock of snow geese with 3-5 birds ingested into 1 engine.  The engine lost all power and was destroyed.  The radome was torn from aircraft and leading edges of both wings were damaged.  The pitot tube for first officer was torn off.  Intense vibration was experienced in airframe and noise level in cockpit increased to point that communication among crewmembers became difficult.  An emergency was declared.  The flight returned safely to Houston with major damage to aircraft.

22 February 1999.  A Boeing-757 departing Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (KY) had to return and make emergency landing after hitting large flock of starlings.  Both engines and 1 wing received extensive damage.  About 400 dead starlings were found on runway area.

07 February 2000.  An American-owned cargo company’s DC-10-30 departing Subic Bay, Philippines ingested a fruit bat into 1 engine at 250 feet AGL.  Aircraft returned to airport.  Five damaged fan blades had to be replaced.  Time out of service was 3 days.  Total repair and related costs exceeded $3 million.

21 January 2001.  The #3 engine on an MD-11 departing Portland International Airport (OR) ingested a herring gull during take-off run. The bird ingestion resulted in a fractured fan blade. Damage from the fan blade fracture resulted in the liberation of the forward section of the inlet cowl. Portions of the inlet cowl were ingested back into the engine and shredded. The pilot aborted takeoff during which two tires failed. The 217 passengers were safely deplaned and rerouted to other flights. Bird ID by Smithsonian, Division of Birds.

09 March 2002.  A Canadair RJ 200 at Dulles International Airport (VA) struck 2 wild turkeys during the takeoff roll.  One shattered the windshield spraying the cockpit with glass fragments and remains.  Another hit the fuselage and was ingested.  There was a 14- by 4-inch section of fuselage skin damaged below the windshield seal on the flight officer’s side.  Cost of repairs estimated at $200,000.  Time out of service was at least 2 weeks.

19 October 2002.  A Boeing 767 departing Logan International Airport (MA) encountered a flock of over 20 double-crested cormorants. At least 1 cormorant was ingested into #2 engine. There were immediate indications of engine surging followed by compression stall and smoke from engine. The engine was shutdown. Overweight landing with 1 engine was made without incident. Nose cowl was dented and punctured. There was significant fan blade damage with abnormal engine vibration. One fan blade was found on the runway. Aircraft was towed to the ramp.  Hydraulic lines were leaking and several bolts were sheared off inside engine. Many pieces fell out when the cowling was opened. Aircraft was out of service for 3 days. Cost of repairs was $1.7 million.

8 January 2003.  A Bombardier de Havilland Dash 8 collided with a flock of lesser scaup at 1,300 feet AGL on approach to Rogue Valley International Airport (OR).  At least 1 bird penetrated the cabin and hit the pilot who turned control over to the first officer for landing. Emergency power switched on when the birds penetrated the radome and damaged the DC power system and instruments systems. The pilot was treated for cuts and released from the hospital.

04 September 2003.  A Fokker 100 struck a flock of at least 5 Canada geese over runway shortly after takeoff at LaGuardia Airport (NY), ingesting 1 or 2 geese into #2 engine.  Engine vibration occurred.  Pilot was unable to shut engine down with the fuel cutoff lever so fire handle was pulled and engine finally shut down, but vibration continued. The flight was diverted to nearby JFK International Airport where a landing was made. The NTSB found a 20- by 36-inch wide depression on right side of nose behind radome. Maximum depth was 4 inches. Impact marks on right wing. A fan blade separated from the disk and penetrated the fuselage.  Several fan blades were deformed. Holes were found in the engine cowling.  Remains were recovered and identified by Wildlife Services.

17 February 2004.  A Boeing 757 during takeoff run from Portland International Airport (OR) hit 5 mallards and returned with 1 engine out. At least 1 bird was ingested and parts of 5 birds were collected from the runway. Engine damage was not repairable and engine had to be replaced. Cost was $2.5 million and time out of service was 3 days.

15 April 2004.  An Airbus 319 climbing out of Portland International Airport (OR) ingested a great blue heron into the #2 engine, causing extensive damage. Pilot shut the engine down as a precaution and made an emergency landing. Runway was closed 38 minutes for cleaning. Flight was cancelled. Engine and nose cowl were replaced. Time out of service was 72 hours. Damage totaled $388,000.

14 June 2004. A Boeing 737 struck a great horned owl during a nighttime landing roll at Greater Pittsburgh International Airport (PA).  The bird severed a cable in front main gear. The steering failed, the aircraft ran off the runway and became stuck in mud.  Passengers were bused to the terminal. They replaced 2 nose wheels, 2 main wheels and brakes. Aircraft out of service was 24 hours. Cost estimated at $20,000.

16 September 2004. A MD 80 departing Chicago O’Hare (IL) hit several double-crested cormorants at 3,000 feet AGL and 4 miles from airport.  The #1 engine caught fire and failed, sending metal debris to the ground in a Chicago neighborhood.  The aircraft made an emergency landing back at O’Hare with no injuries to the 107 passengers.

24 October 2004. A Boeing 767 departing Chicago O’Hare (IL) hit a flock of birds during takeoff run.  A compressor stall caused the engine to flame out.  A fire department got calls from local residents who reported seeing flames coming from the plane. Pilot dumped approximately 11,000 gallons of fuel over Lake Michigan before returning to land. Feathers found in engine were sent to the Smithsonian, Division of Birds for identification.

30 March 2005.  A SA 227, landing at Dade-Collier Training and Transportation Airport (FL), hit the last deer in a group of 8 crossing the runway, causing a prop to detach and puncture the fuselage. Also damaged was the nose wheel steering and right engine nacelle. Aircraft was a write-off due to cost of repairs $580,000 being close to the plane’s value of $650,000.

1 September 2005.  A Falcon 20 departing Lorain County (OH) Airport hit a flock of mourning doves at rotation, causing the #1 engine to flame out. As the gear was retracted, the aircraft hit another flock which caused the #2 engine RPM to roll-back. The pilot was not able to sustain airspeed or altitude and crash-landed, sliding through a ditch and airport perimeter fence, crossing a highway and ending in a corn field. Aircraft sustained major structural damage beyond economical repairs. Both pilots were taken to hospital. Costs totaled $1.4 million.

16 October 2005.  A BE-1900 departing Ogdensburg International (NY) struck a coyote during take-off run. The nose gear collapsed causing the plane to skid to a stop on the runway. Propeller blades went through the skin of the aircraft. Engine #1 and #2, propellers, landing gear, nose, fuselage had major damage.  Insurance declared aircraft a total loss. Cost of repairs would have been $1.5 million.

30 December 2005.  A Bell 206 helicopter Pilot flying a Bell 206 helicopter at 500 feet AGL near Washington, LA looked up from instruments to see a large vulture crashing into the windshield. He was temporarily blinded by blood and wind. After regaining control, the pilot tried to land in a bean field nearby but blood was hampering his vision and the left skid hit the ground first causing the aircraft to tip on its side. Pilot was taken to the hospital and had several surgeries to repair his face, teeth and eye.  Aircraft was damaged beyond repair.  Cost of repairs would have been $1.5 million.

1 January 2006.  A B-757 ingested a great blue heron into an engine during take-off at Portland International (OR).  Engine was shut down and a one-engine landing was made. Fan section of the engine was replaced.  Time out of service was 15 hours. Cost was $244,000.

3 August 2006.  A Cessna Citation 560 departing a General Aviation airport in Indiana hit Canada geese on the take-off run.  Left engine ingested birds causing an uncontained failure. Aircraft went off the runway during the aborted takeoff. Top cowling and fan were replaced. ID by the Smithsonian, Division of Birds. Aircraft was out of service for 13 days and costs were estimated at $750,000.

18 August 2006. A CL-RJ 200 departing Salt Lake City International Airport flew through a flock of northern pintails (ducks) at 500 feet AGL.  Pilot saw 2 birds and felt them hit the engines. Engines began to vibrate.  Aircraft landed without incident and was towed to the hanger. ID by the Smithsonian, Division of Birds. Time out of service was over 24 hours and costs to repair engines totaled $811,825.

8 December 2006.  The Captain of a B-767 departing JFK International Airport saw 2 birds during initial climb.  After bird was ingested into #2 engine, pilot returned aircraft to JFK on Alert 3-3. One badly damaged great blue heron was recovered from the runway. Carcass appeared to have gone through the #2 engine. The engine was replaced and passengers were put on a replacement aircraft.

15 March 2007.  A B-767 departing Chicago O’Hare encountered a flock of birds at <500 feet AGL. People on ground reported flames shooting out of the #1 engine. The aircraft returned to land without incident and was towed to the terminal.  Birds were ingested in both engines, but only 1 engine was damaged.  Remains of nine male canvasback ducks were found near the departure end of runway 9R. ID by the Smithsonian, Division of Birds. Time out of service was 12 days. Estimated cost for repairs is $1.8 million. Cost for aircraft’s time out of service was $309,000.

7 July 2007.  A U.S. carrier B-767 flew through a large flock of yellow-legged gulls at 20 feet AGL during departure at Fiumcino International Airport (Rome, Italy).  The pilot dumped fuel before returning to land on one engine. Besides birds being ingested into both engines, birds hit the cockpit window, right engine nose cowl, wing, and right main undercarriage. The main gear struts were deflated. Some of the fan blades had large chunks taken out. The left engine had many fan blades damaged midway along the blade leading edge.  Both engines were replaced.  The replacement engines had to be flown to Rome from the USA.  ID by ornithologist, a member of Bird Strike Committee Italy. Time out of service 1 week.

25 August 2007.  Pilot of B-737 departing Texas El Paso Airport reported loud bang in cockpit at 14,000 feet AGL during climb. Loud rushing air noise, cabin started to depressurize. Cabin alt horn went off, oxygen masks were donned.  Pilot descended to 10,000 feet, notified flight attendants of situation, and then landed at El Paso. Found large hole under captain’s left foot side. Also, hole in left horizontal stabilizer the size of a football. First officer’s side of cockpit had a dent. Blood and feathers were found. No birds were seen in flight. Ground crew said “turkey buzzards” were in area. Bird was identified as marbled godwit by Smithsonian, Division of Birds. Cost of repairs was $144,064. Time out of service was 3 days.

28 August 2007.  The pilot of a CRJ-700 declared an emergency after a black vulture smashed in the front fuselage between the radome and the windshield at 2,300 feet AGL on approach to the Louisville, KY International Airport.  The strike ripped the skin, broke the avionics door, broke a stringer in half and bent 2 bulkheads. Maintenance made temporary repairs, then aircraft was ferried out for permanent repairs. ID by Smithsonian, Division of Birds. Cost of repairs was $200,000. Time out of service was 2 weeks.

11 October 2007.  A CRJ-700 departing Denver International struck a flock of sandhill cranes at 1,500 feet AGL. The captain said several “geese” came at them, and they heard 3-4 thuds. The right engine immediately began to run roughly and the VIB gauge was fluctuating rapidly from one extreme to the other. Captain declared an emergency and said he didn’t think he was going to make it back to DEN. The aircraft landed safely. The engine fan was damaged and there were dents along the left wing leading edge slat.  ID by Smithsonian, Division of Birds. NTSB investigated.

23 October 2007.  A Piper 44 flying at 3,400 feet AGL disappeared during a night training flight from Minneapolis, MN to Grand Forks, ND.  The instructor and student pilot did not report any difficulties or anomalies prior to the accident. Wreckage was found 36 hours later, partially submerged upside down in a bog. The NTSB sent part of a wing with suspected bird remains inside to the Smithsonian.  Remains identified as Canada goose. The damage that crippled the aircraft was to the left horizontal stabilator. NTSB investigated. Two fatalities.

22 November 2007.  Pilot of a B-767 (U.S. carrier) at Nice Cote d'Azur (France) noticed a flock of gulls on runway during take off. As the aircraft rotated, the flock lifted off the runway. Shortly after that the crew felt multiple strikes and vibrations and returned to land. The #2 engine had fan blade damage. One piece of a fan blade broke off and exited out the front and the core nozzle fell off. The engine was replaced. Birds ID’d as yellow-legged gulls by Smithsonian, Division of Birds. Time out of service was 12 days. Cost of repairs was $8,925,000 and other cost was $196,000.

27 November 2007.  A CRJ-200 descending into Memphis International Airport (TN) encountered a flock of large birds, sustaining ingestion into both engines, a cracked nose panel, damage to the right wing root and left horizontal stabilizer, and left engine anti-ice cowling.  Bird remains were subsequently identified as snow geese. Maintenance made temporary repairs before aircraft could be flown for more permanent repairs.

29 January 2008.  Flight crew of B-747 reported minor noise and vibration shortly after lift-off from Louisville International Airport.  Noise and vibrations later subsided.  Upon landing at destination, damage was found to 3 fan blades on the #2 engine. A piece of a liberated fan blade penetrated the cowl. Six fan blade pairs, the fan case outer-front acoustic panel and inlet cowl were replaced. ID by Smithsonian, Division of Birds.

8 April 2008.  Shortly after departure, a Challenger 600 suffered multiple, large bird strikes (American white pelicans) at 3,000 feet AGL. One bird penetrated the nose area just below the windshield and continued through the forward cockpit bulkhead. Bird remains were sprayed throughout the cockpit. No injuries reported. Both engines ingested at least 1 bird. The #1 engine had fan damage: the #2 engine lost power and had a dented inlet lip. ID by Smithsonian, Division of Birds. NTSB investigated. Cost exceeded $2 million.

20 June 2008.  During takeoff run at Chicago O’Hare, a B-747 bound for China ingested a red-tailed hawk. The flight continued takeoff and climbed to 11,000 feet to dump fuel and then returned to the airport with one engine out. Several blades had significant damage. Both the #1 and #2 engines had vibrations but the #2 engine was not damaged.  Aircraft taken out of service for repairs; passengers had to be boarded onto another aircraft.

 

Date:

24 July 2008

Aircraft:

Learjet 60

Airport:

Morristown Muni (NJ)

Phase of Flight:

Takeoff run

Effect on Flight:

Aborted takeoff

Damage:

Engine #2 and wing

Wildlife Species:

Canada goose

Comments from Report:    During takeoff run a flock of 2-10 geese were struck. The #2 engine ingested a Canada goose causing damage and the wing was also damaged. Takeoff was aborted. Aircraft was out of service for 8 days and cost totaled $3 million.

 

Date:

11 September 2008

Aircraft:

MD-88

Airport:

Atlanta Intl. (GA)

Phase of Flight:

Climb (5’ AGL)

Effect on Flight:

Engine shut down, precautionary landing

Damage:

Engine #1

Wildlife Species:

Rock pigeon

Comments from Report:    The number 1 engine was totaled.  Odor and haze in cabin. Vibration in engine. Two-ten birds reported as struck. Aircraft made an emergency landing. ID by Smithsonian, Division of Birds. Remains taken from nose and runway.

 

Date:

25 October 2008

Aircraft:

MD-90-30

Airport:

Salt Lake City (UT)

Phase of Flight:

Takeoff run

Effect on Flight:

Aborted takeoff

Damage:

Engine

Wildlife Species:

Ferruginous hawk (juvenile)

Comments from Report:    Hawk was ingested on takeoff. Pilot was able to abort takeoff on the runway.  Runway was closed 30 minutes for cleanup. Airline mechanics reported that the cost of 4 tires, 4 brake assemblies and 4 fan blades would be $554,400. This cost does not include labor and down time. Final estimate for repairs was around $3.2 million. Airline policy requires pilots be removed from service. ID by Wildlife Services biologist.

 

Date:

06 December 2008

Aircraft:

A-320

Airport:

New Orleans Intl (LA)

Phase of Flight:

Climb (500’ AGL)

Effect on Flight:

Engine shut down and Precautionary landing

Damage:

Engine

Wildlife Species:

Lesser scaup

Comments from Report:    During climb-out, 4 birds appeared on the nose out of the dark. Birds tried to dive and were lost from view on right side followed by a loud thump and #2 engine vibrations. We declared an emergency,  and landed. Post flight inspection found major engine damage.  There were many deformed fan and exhaust blades. ID by Smithsonian, Division of Birds.

Large Military Aircraft (Worldwide, at least 107 military aircraft have been destroyed because of bird strikes, 1990-2008.  Most of these incidents involved fighter or fighter-trainer jet aircraft.  The following is a list of larger, specialized military aircraft that were destroyed because of bird strikes).

15 July 1996; Belgian Air Force Lockheed C-130; Eindhoven, Netherlands: The aircraft struck a large flock of starlings during approach and crashed short of the runway. All four crew members and 30 of the 37 passengers were killed.

14 July 1996; NATO E-3 AWACS; Aktion, Greece: The aircraft struck a flock of birds during takeoff. The crew aborted the takeoff and the aircraft overran the runway. The aircraft was not repaired, but none of the crew was seriously injured.

22 September 1995; U.S. Air Force E-3 AWACS; Elmendorf AFB, Alaska: During takeoff as the aircraft was passing rotation speed, the aircraft struck about three dozen Canada geese, ingesting at least three into engine two and at least one into engine one. The aircraft was unable to maintain controlled flight and crashed in a forest about 1 mile (1.6 km) beyond the runway. All 24 occupants were killed.

September 1987; U.S. Air Force B1-B; Colorado, USA: Aircraft lost control and crashed after a large bird (American white pelican) struck the wing root area and damage a hydraulic system. The aircraft was on a low level, high speed training mission. Only three of the six occupants were able to successfully bail out. .

1980; Royal Air Force Nimrod; Kinloss Scotland: Aircraft lost control and crashed after ingesting a number of birds into multiple engines.

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