U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

Spring 2017


Human–Wildlife Interactions 11(1):23–32, Spring 2017.


U.S. government work.


Rotary-wing aircraft (e.g., helicopters and tilt-wing aircraft) are an important component of all U.S. military services and the U.S. civil aviation industry. Our analyses of wildlife strikes to military rotary-wing aircraft, both within the United States and during overseas deployments, as well as civil helicopters, have shown there are important patterns within wildlife strike data for flight operations conducted on airfields and during off -airfield missions. Birds accounted for 93% of the wildlife strikes where the animal was identified, and mammals (primarily bats) accounted for 7%. Wildlife impacted all parts of civil helicopters and military rotary-wing aircraft during strike events; however, specific areas were impacted by wildlife with a higher frequency compared to others. We recommend airframe manufacturers and maintenance personnel consider reinforcing and redesigning rotary-wing aircraft windscreens and main rotor systems to better withstand the impact of wildlife.

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