Airport Bird Threat in North America from Large Flocking Birds (geese) (as Viewed by an Engine Manufacturer)
Document Type Article
In worldwide aviation operations, bird collisions with aircraft and ingestions into engine inlets present safety hazards and financial loss through equipment damage, loss of service and disruption to operations. The problem is encountered by all types of aircraft, both military and commercial. Modern aircraft engines have achieved a high level of reliability while manufacturers and users continually strive to further improve the safety record. A major safety concern today includes common-cause events which involve significant power loss on more than one engine. These are externally-inflicted occurrences, with the most frequent being encounters with flocks of birds. Most frequently these encounters occur during flight operations in the area on or near airports, near the ground instead of at cruise altitude conditions. This paper focuses on the increasing threat to aircraft and engines posed by the recorded growth in geese populations in North America. Service data show that goose strikes are increasing, especially in North America, consistent with the growing resident geese populations estimated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Airport managers, along with the governmental authorities, need to develop a strategy to address this large flocking bird issue. This paper also presents statistics on the overall status of the bird threat for birds of all sizes in North America relative to other geographic regions. Overall, the data shows that Canada and the USA have had marked improvements in controlling the threat from damaging birds - except for the increase in geese strikes. To reduce bird ingestion hazards, more aggressive corrective measures are needed in international air transport to reduce the chances of serious incidents or accidents from bird ingestion encounters. Air transport authorities must continue to take preventative and avoidance actions to counter the threat of birdstrikes to aircraft. The primary objective of this paper is to increase awareness of, and focus attention on, the safety hazards presented by large flocking birds such as geese. In the worst case, multiple engine power loss due to large bird ingestion could result in an off-airport forced landing accident. Hopefully, such awareness will prompt governmental regulatory agencies to address the hazards associated with growing populations of geese in North America.