On Saturday, a bird strike was to blame for a plane catching fire in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The incident occurred around 6 p.m., as the bird flew into the right engine of a Spirit Airlines plane that was accelerating for takeoff from Atlantic City International Airport en route to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The pilot was able to stop the aircraft in time before launch. Luckily, and thanks to how the crew handled the situation, there were no injuries sustained, officials say.
A new video shows a bird strike caused a Spirit Airlines plane to catch fire in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Saturday.
Following the bird strike, passengers were to be reimbursed, given travel discounts, and the option of traveling on another flight to Fort Lauderdale, according to a spokesperson for Spirit.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) documented an estimated 10,000 bird strike reports per year. That may seem like a high number, but they stated this only accounts for around 50% of bird strikes that happen and that many go unreported. This is just one in a rapidly increasing number of bird strikes that occur each year. It is also important to note that bird strikes do not affect the engines most of the time, and flights will continue as usual in most cases. Severe damages caused by bird strikes are rare, and the threat to passengers exceedingly so.
While the FAA and the USDA have been trying to compile data that will provide them with high-risk areas and times that they can then utilize to prevent the high amount of bird strikes from happening in the future, the data that they have received so far is limited to what the pilots of the flights have sent in their reports.
It has been determined from previous bird strikes is that approximately 55% of them occur during the day, from June through October. These are the months that most North American bird species are migrating. Primarily, this is the migration season for Canada Geese, the species that accounts for most bird strikes, followed by seagulls and pigeons.
Most of these strikes also occur during takeoff, which frequently does not result in a crash or significant harm to anyone onboard. What it does do is cost airlines more than $650 million each year in damages.
The reasons that led to the steady increase of bird strikes through the past 100 years have to do with the rapidly growing populations of bird species that are getting too comfortable living in urban areas. Canada Geese increased nearly four times over since 1990, from around 1 million to almost 4 million resident geese. Starlings' quantities increased so rapidly that they went from 100 starlings introduced to North America in 1890 to numbers reaching 200 million, and they are only expected to continue growing.
Of course, it also has to do with the fact that we are increasingly reliant on air travel to get to and from destinations. The increasing efficiency of newer aircraft also makes them less detectable by avifauna.
Although it may seem as though we cannot do much about these bird strikes, airports have many different steps to ensure that they limit the number of bird strikes that occur. These practices include removing any inviting habitats in the surrounding area, like trees, food sources like bugs, and limiting water sources birds have access to in the area.
Other more intense methods include using sound deterrents that can scare off birds, trained falcons of dogs are also used to scare off more stubborn birds, radar systems are sometimes put in place, and pilots and crew are trained to be prepared should a more severe bird strike occur.
Despite all of these measures, a lot of the times larger birds like Canada geese, starlings, and pigeons roost or nest on the exterior of airport buildings, on roofs or one of the many overhangs or ledges. It is important that bird deterrents and control methods are continuously maintained in such a high risk area, because the less birds are able to roost in airports or surrounding areas, the less bird strikes can occur during takeoff and landing.
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