Date of this Version
Reporting of wildlife strikes with civil aircraft in the USA is voluntary but strongly encouraged by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through Advisory Circulars and FAA publications. The National Wildlife Strike Database contained 59,196 strike reports for civil aircraft, 1990-2004. An initial analysis of independent strike data from an eastern USA airport in 1994 indicated that less than 20% of strikes were actually reported to the FAA for inclusion in the National Wildlife Strike Database. To obtain an improved estimate of the percent of strikes reported, we obtained 14 sets of wildlife strike data maintained by three airlines and three airports for various years, 1991-2004. Only 489 (10.7%) of the 4,561 strikes recorded in these independent databases had been reported to the FAA for inclusion in the National Wildlife Strike Database. The National Wildlife Strike Database contained an additional 591 strike reports for the relevant time periods unknown to the airlines or airports, making a total of 5,152 known strike events in the combined databases. If we assume that these 5,152 known strike events in the combined databases represented all strikes that occurred for those airlines and airports during those time periods, then the National Wildlife Strike Database contained 1,080 (21.0%) of the total strikes. Because it is highly probable that additional strike events occurred that were not recorded in either the national or local databases, the percent of strikes reported to the FAA probably fell somewhere between 10.7 and 21.0%. Thus, our initial estimate from 1994 that less than 20% of wildlife strikes with civil aircraft in the USA are reported to the FAA for inclusion in the national database is supported by this more extensive analysis. Further, only about 44% of the 59,196 wildlife strikes that were reported during 1990-2004, provided information on the type of wildlife struck to species group (e.g., gull, deer) and only 25% identified the wildlife to exact species (e.g., ring-billed gull [Larus delawarensis], white-tailed deer [Odocoileus virginianus]). Based on these analyses, there obviously is a need for increased and more detailed reporting of wildlife strikes. Improvements in reporting will increase the usefulness of the database as a foundation of information for understanding and managing wildlife hazards to aviation.