Bird Strike Committee Proceedings


Date of this Version

August 2005


A question has lingered over the Aviation Industry for over 30 years. Can we improve the visibility of aircraft to birds so as to reduce the probability of bird aircraft collisions? At the outset, I want to make clear that reducing bird hazards to aircraft is a comprehensive and systemic problem which can be mitigated in part by active control of causative factors in and around airports. However, aircraft rapidly transition out of the airport boundary in a matter of seconds and are still transitioning miles away from the airport at altitudes where birds may still be commonly found. It will only be an onboard system that can significantly reduce the bird hazard in this airspace. Our work both in application and research has been utilizing variations in aircraft mounted lighting to reduce this hazard. Collisions between wildlife and aircraft worldwide are increasing in number and severity. The United Kingdom’s Central Science Laboratory estimates that wildlife strikes to aircraft cost the aviation industry worldwide as much as one billion dollars each year. In the United States alone the annual loss is estimated at $300-$400 million. 1 National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Jim Hall has stated that birdstrikes are on his list of most wanted concerns. Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, Jim Dunn, has stated that “...There has never been a greater potential for catastrophe than in the current conflict between wildlife and aviation.” During a four month period in late 1999, at Detroit Metropolitan Airport alone, Northwest Airlines suffered over $24 million in damage due to bird ingestion.