How The FAA Is Looking To Counteract Increasing Birdstrikes In US Aviation

Birdstrikes, which occur when a bird collides with an aircraft, can have serious consequences, including damage to the aircraft, injuries to passengers and crew, and in some cases, fatalities. As such, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been taking proactive measures and developing technologies to counteract the increasing number of birdstrikes in the United States.

The cost of birdstrikes

Between 1990 and 2021, there were around 255,000 reported cases of wildlife strikes with civil aircraft in the United States – 15,400 of which occurred in 2021. In comparison, just over 2,000 cases were recorded in 1990.


Almost 300 people were killed and about 300 aircraft were destroyed over three decades. In 2021, birdstrikes in the United States cost $328 million in losses, resulting from aircraft damage and nearly 140,000 hours of aircraft downtime.

As more planes take to the skies – especially newer, quieter aircraft that birds may not hear from afar – the FAA believes that there will be a rise in birdstrikes. Furthermore, while the general population of birds have decreased over the years, the number of large species has grown – and it is often these birds that lead to more significant damage.

A bird’s eye view

The FAA found that most birdstrikes happen during the daylight hours of July to October, with a higher incidence during an aircraft’s arrival, rather than departure. 71 per cent of bird strikes occur below 500 feet (152 meters) above ground level, but it is those that occur above this altitude that are more likely to cause damage.

One approach the FAA is taking is to modify airport landscapes to make them less attractive to birds. This includes adding spikes to flat surfaces such as runway signage, planting certain types of vegetation that are less appealing to birds, as well as modifying water features and other landscaping elements that may attract birds.

Bird alert

Around 2014, the FAA began researching other methods that could enhance their bird-avoidance strategies. The first of which was a radar system in the cockpit that could help pilots avoid birds. Unfortunately, the technology was not ideal. Apart from generating false alarms, the antenna was bulky and difficult to install, and not to mention, expensive.

So, the Administration looked into creating a system that could alert birds about approaching aircraft. Since birds can see red, green, blue, and ultraviolet colors, the FAA experimented with replacing typical aircraft landing lights with a pulsing ultraviolet LED light that birds could detect. This technology, compared to the radar system, is easier and less expensive to install and requires simpler maintenance.

During tests, the FAA found that birds would fly off if the aircraft had the ultraviolet LED light on; when it was turned off, the birds would return almost immediately. The Administration estimates that birds can spot a plane with the light on from 166 yards (152 meters) away, compared to 108 yards (99 meters) without the light. This gives birds more time to fly out of harm’s way.

The FAA is continuing to test the LED light in different weather conditions, with various bird species. While this may be the best bet for planes to avoid bird strikes at this stage, artificial intelligence and cloud technology could eventually offer better solutions.

Sources: Federal Aviation Administration, Medium

For more updates check below links and stay updated with News AKMI.
Life and Style || Lifetime Fitness || Automotive News || Tech News || Giant Bikes || Cool Cars || Food and Drinks


Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button

usa news wall today prime news newso time news post wall