November 14, 2011

A fresh FAA initiative to increase bird-strike reporting has launched for the benefit of general aviation (GA). The new campaign is employing internet technology for the first time, allowing reporting through the FAA’s bird-strike database on the web.

Ever since the bird strike reporting program started in the 1960s, reports from the industry have been lacking. According to Marcia Alexander-Adams, FAA spokeswoman, “out of the roughly 100,000 total bird-strike reports each year, only about six percent have been coming from GA operators.”

Most bird-strike reports come from larger towered fields, where airlines create most of the air traffic, and are typically reported by the crew through the FAA air traffic control tower. Most bird strikes occur below 3,500 feet AGL, such as when taking off or landing. But at smaller airports, particularly those without an ATC tower, bird-strike incidents frequently go unreported.

Although the FAA has strived to increase wildlife strike reporting for 50 years, this year’s campaign is the first to use educational outreach to not only pilots and air traffic controllers, but also to airport sponsors, mechanics, engine manufacturers, students at aviation schools and aviation organizations. A dramatic wall poster showing a caution sign with a bird inside and the message “Report Wildlife Strikes” has been produced for posting in highly used areas such as training rooms and break rooms. A Quick Response (QR) code on the bottom of the poster may be scanned with a smart phone that has the FAA’s QR application.

“We would particularly like to hear from GA airport sponsors telling us why reporting is low so we can work with them to increase reporting and reduce wildlife strikes,” said Alexander-Adams. “The information we hope to get includes what types of wildlife are involved, the amount of damage to the aircraft, and how many strikes occur annually at their airport.”

She said the FAA will work with airports to develop a wildlife mitigation plan, and that Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding may be available in some cases for an assessment of the wildlife strike dangers.

View the FAA’s Wildlife Strike database or submit a report of a bird strike.