News and Events

Major occurrences of the quarter October - December 2016

The event occurred in Melbourne on November 29 (see below) reopens the (never- closed) chapter of the absence of abnormal parameters after a bird strike. In summary, the crew is aware theyimpacted one (or more?) bird on take-off but, in the absence of abnormal instrumental indications, continued to fly for 10 hours across the Pacific to Hawaii. It should be known (another point to explore) that a bird ingestion into an engine can cause malfunction signals hours and even days later and only an endoscopic inspection can determine whether the engine suffered damage and whether it is suitable for flying. Another point that should be clear is that, supposing the aircraft suffered multiple impacts, the doubt that also the second engine may have been affected, this time without notice, should automatically arise in the crew minds.

In this case, the engine had to be replaced after landing, a sign that the damage was substantial and not repairable on site. It’s true however that the damaged engine continued to properly run for hours, but just the  doubt that also the other one could have been affected, should have led to a greater caution.

Caution, however, originates from the education and the training received and the question is, alsogiven specific precedents, which kind of training the pilots receive with regard to bird impact and / or ingestion?

The most egregious precedent regarded the crew of a PAL B777 that on 15.4.2011 flew from Manila to Vancouver and discovered only after landing that one of the engines had been damaged following a bird ingestion and needed to be disembarked and replaced.

But several other cases are reported (British Airways Orlando- Gatwick, Thomas Cook Istanbul- London etc...) that disclose the inclination of the crews, in the absence of specific training and a company policy, to trust too much in the “absence of abnormal parameters”.

Unless the costs of a prudential return in terms of fuel, time and image do not subconsciously exceed the attention to safety so that one could suppose that "safety first, but after profit"

  • 2 October – Orlando (FL)
    American Airlines A321, on final approach a bird impacted the aircraft just below the windshield; minor damage as result of the bird strike;
  • 3 October – Pristina (Kosovo)
    Swiss A320 in the initial climb anengine ingested a bird prompting the crew to immediately return about 15 minutes after departure;
  • 6 October – Milan (Linate)
    Alitalia A320flew through a flock of birds shortly after departure; the crew heard an impact, however, in absence of abnormal indication, decided to continue the flight to destination;
  • a post flight inspection revealed a bird had struck an engine case;  return flight cancelled and aircraft grounded for about 30 hours;  
  • 6 October – San Francisco (CA)
    Qantas B747, during the initial climb the crew heard abnormal noise and sensed unusual vibrations of the aircraft; after consulting with maintenance and in the absence of any abnormal indications the crew decided to continue to Sydney in a 14 hours flight;
    a post flight inspection revealed a bird strike to a landing gear door strut and the door seal;  
  • 11 October – Portland (OR)
    Southwest Airlines B737 rejected takeoff at high speed due to multiple impacts with birds; an engine sustained substantial damage as result of birdstrikes;
  • 15 October – Kathmandu
    Buhtan Airlines A319, was on final approach when a goat reached the runway prompting the crew to go around;  the animal, belonging to the army battalion responsible for airport security, was  caught and removed from the aerodrome perimeter in order to allow the landing of the aircraft;
  • 16 October – Salt Lake City (UT)
    Delta B737, multiple bird strike on final; minor damage;
  • 19 October – Probably Istanbul (SabihaGokcen)
    BoraJet ERJ195, enroute at FL360 in a flight to Manchester the captain windshield started to crack due to a bird strike; the crew then decided to divert to Budapest; being almost impossible that a bird strike occurred at that altitude, it is probable that the impact happened at departureand the windshield cracked later on during the flight;
  • 21 October – Rochester (NY)
    FedEx B767, after take-off the crew decided to return for landing in order to assess possible damage to the flaps; in the meanwhile the TWR reported the presence of dead birds on the runway, impacted by the aircraft; no damage  found after the post flight inspection;
  • 21 October – Sao Paulo (Guarulhos)
    TAP Portugal A330, upon rotation a bird impacted the left engine; the crew continued the climb but later decided to dump fuel and to return for landing about one hour later; substantial damage to the engine;
  • 21 October – Ft. Lauderdale (FL)
    Southwest B737, rejected take off at high speed due to a bird strike; one engine damaged;
  • 29 October – Chicago (O’Hare) (IL)
    Envoy CRJ700, multiple impact during the initial climb; immediate return; damage to the fuselage;
  • 1 November – Amsterdam
    KLM B737, immediately after take-off the crew reported the right engine failure due to the ingestion of at least 8 birds; immediate return about 25’ later; several dead birds found on the runway;
  • 2 November – Dusseldorf
    Lufthansa A321, rejected take-off at high speed in order to avoid flying through alarge flock of geese that was going to cross the aircraft departure path;
  • 5 November – Hong Kong
    Tigerair A320, during the initial climb suffered a bird strike on the Captain’s windshield, which remained cracked and arcing; immediate return 70’ later;
  • 5 November – Lahore
    PIA A320, during the initial climb an engine ingested a bird; immediate return after 15’; fan blades damaged;
  • 8 November – Banjul (Gambia)
    Thomas Cook A321, flew through a large flock of storks at rotation (V1) and ingested a number of birds into both engines while other birds struck the aircraft in several points; after take-off the right engine began to vibrate significantly and had to be shut down; the aircraft came to landing 45’ later; a post flight inspection revealed a bird hanging from the right main gear; 13 dead birds found on the runway; it is the third case of the year of bird ingestion into both engines;

    (Photos by Kayleigh Loveridge taken from 
  • 9 November – Bremen
    Germanwings A319, birdstrike during the initial climb and immediate return;
  • 10 November – Buenos Aires (Aeroparque)
    AerolineasArgentinas B737, on final a bird impacted the nose cone;

    (Photo by Guille taken from 
  • 10 November – Rio de Janeiro (Dumont)
    AviancaBrasil A318, on final at 2000 ft. struck a vulture;
  • 16 November – Btn Dammam and Jeddah
    Saudia A330, after landing the aircraft was prepared for the next flight and a hole was discovered in the leading edge of the left hand wing with a bird embedded; it is a Greater spotted eagle (Clangaclanga) that can weigh up to 3 kilos;

    (Photo taken from 
  • 19 November – Saint Louis (MO)
    American B737, on take-off struck several birds a number of which have been ingested into the right engine; substantial damage to the engine and the fuselage; immediate return 25’ later; debris found on the runway;
  • 20 November – Santiago de Compostela
    Easyjet Switzerland A320, on approach flew through a flock of birds and suffered damage to the fuselage; return flight operated by another aircraft;
  • 20 November – Cape Town
    Condor B767, rejected takeoff at about 110 knots due to a bird strike into the right engine; the right hand brakes overheated causing the tyres to deflate;
  • 23 November – Azur B767
    Moscow (Domodedovo), during the initial climb an engine ingested a bird prompting the crew to burn fuel and return for landing about 2 hours later;
  • 24 November – Burbank (CA)
    Southwest B737, on final suffered a multiple impact with birds that caused minor damage;
  • 25 November – Istanbul (SabihaGokcen )
    Pegasus A320, bird strike  at take-off and immediate return 25’ later;
  • 26 November – Phuket
    Eurowings A330, rejected take-off at high speed further to a bird ingestion into the right engine; aircraft replacement and flight delayed for 27 hours;
  • 28 November – Istanbul (Ataturk)
    THY A321, bird strike  at take-off and bird ingestion into the left engine; immediate return 17’ later;
  • 28 November – Daytona Beach (FL)
    Delta MD88, rejected take-off further to multiple bird impacts to an engine; damage to the engine and the nose gear lights;
  • 29 November – Melbourne
    Jetstar B787, in the initial climb a bird struck the aircraft; in the absence of abnormal indications the crew decided to continue the flight to destinationfor about 10 hours;
    a post flight inspection revealed that one of the engines received bird strike damage requiring an engine change; 
  • 4 December – Memphis (TN)
    Southwest B737, in the initial climbthe crew reported a bird strike; they had a couple of feathers on the windshield and believed a bird may have hit the flaps; immediate return about 20’ later;
  • 5 December – Memphis (TN)
    Delta MD88, in the initial climb  the crew reported a bird strike into the left hand engine, declared emergency and shut the engine down; immediate return about 20’ later;
  • 5 December – Newark (NJ)
    Republic Airways ERJ170, a bird struck the radome during the approach; damage to the nose cone;
  • 7 December – between Dubai and Warsaw
    Emirates B777, a post flight inspection revealed the aircraft had received a bird strike and was unable to depart for the return flight that was cancelled;
  • 12 December – Amsterdam
    Vueling A320, rejected take off at low speed due to a bird strike; the aircraft was able to depart for the flight about 75 minutes later;
  • 14 December - Prague
    Lufthansa A320, rejected take off at low speed due to a bird ingestion in the left engine; the aircraft was able to depart for the flight about 115 minutes later;
  • 15 December – Chicago (Midway)
    Southwest B737, during the initial climb an engine ingested a bird and began to vibrate; the crew declared emergency and returned for landing 10’ later;
  • 15 December – Chicago (Rockford)
    Allegiant A320,  during the initial climb the aircraft flew through a flock of geese and ingested a number of birds into the left engine;  the crew  shut the engine down and returned for landing about 25 minutes later;
  • 21 December – Johannesburg (Lanseria)
    Mango B737, during the approach the left engine ingested a number of birds;

    (Photo taken from 
  • 21 December – Tampa (FL)
    Delta MD90, during the approach a bird impacted the nose cone causing a large hole;
  • 22 December – Porto Alegre
    LATAM A319, during the approach a bird was ingested into the left engine;
  • 23 December – Lahore
    PIA B777, during the approach a bird was ingested into the left engine;
  • 28 December – Ft. Lauderdale (FL)
    Virgin America A320, on final the left engine ingested a bird and suffered damage;
  • 29 December – San Francisco (CA)
    American Airlines B737, upon rotation a number of small birds impacted the aircraft; in the absence of abnormal parameters the crew continued the flight to destination for 3,5 hours; after landing an inspection revealed the aircraft suffered damage and had to be grounded due to numerous bird impacts;
  • 30 December – Warsaw
    Enter Air B737, during the initial climb the right engine ingested a bird, emitted a loud bang and lost power; the crew decided to return for landing,  burnt off fuel and landed  back about 2:15 hours after departure;
  • 31 December – Malaga
    Vueling A320, rejected take off at high speed further to a bird ingestion into an engine;

Meeting of the World Association Birdstrike in Amsterdam (5-9 December 2016)

Finally, after two postponements, the long-awaited meeting of the WBA took place, hosted in the rooms of the Royal Netherlands Navy Command in Amsterdam. Despite the very short time (less than three months) to reorganize the event, originally scheduled in Muscat (Oman), the conference was a great success and was attended by about 150 members both civilians and military.

The meeting lasted five days, the first three devoted to the presentation of documents by the participants
and the following two to the deepening of some topics, having in view the date of May 2017 when the ICAO, the world's foremost aviation organization, will organize its own conference specifically dedicated to the problems of wildlife strikes (ICAO / ACI Wildlife strike Hazard Reduction Symposium). The occasion was so propitious for an exchange of ideas among the world's leading experts in order to present joint proposals and direct ICAO towards the needed actions for the prevention of this always-growing phenomenon.

Italy was represented by an official delegation made up of Ing. Claudio Eminente, ENAC Deputy Central Director and current chair of the Bird Strike Committee Italy and Dr. Alessandro Montemaggiori, ornithologist on contract in the same Agency. The Italian Air Force was represented by LT.Col. Filippo Conti.

Dr. Valter Battistoni was also present on behalf of STASA - Research Centre, former chair of the BSCI and manager of this website.

The ENAC delegation presented a report on the application of BRI (Birdstrike Risk Index) in the Italian airports, while Dr. Battistoni solicited an improvement of the certification requirements for transport aircraft. In particular, he focused on some past incidents highlighting the opportunity to better shield the nose gear steering apparatus, the window and the window frame, guaranteeing  in the same time its natural function (i.e. visibility), and suggesting to increase the size of the birds used to establish the airframe resistance standards.


(Valter Battistoni (above) and Alessandro Montemaggiori during their presentations at the meeting)

In the final two days, the conference put on the table and discussed some technical aspects related to metrics, in particular to develop a unique and shared method for strike quantification.

It also proposed some changes that ICAO should make to its regulations (Annex 14 para 9.4.1) by inserting the obligation to specify in the reports the bird species impacted. This would be a big aid for implementing specific plans aimed at limiting the hazard. Moreover ICAO should update its IBIS system (ICAO Bird Strike Identification System) and make it accessible to the community of operators and researchers, as well as make it compatible with the European system of data collection ECCAIRS (European Coordination Centre for Accident and Incident Reporting System ).

Finally, as for the information to the pilots on the presence of birds, given the substantial uselessness of NOTAMs, the conference proposed the use of a proper phraseology just limited to the quantification and localization of birds, possibly communicating their species and the movement direction, leaving to the crew the task of assessing the risk level  related to their presence.

The BSCI released the 2014 report on wildlife strikes in Italy

The BSCI, a branch of the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) released its 2015 Report on the phenomenon of wildlife strikes in Italy. As usual, we present  here our observations and comments (a short summary in English).

The role of air traffic control in the prevention of wildlife strikes at airports

Air traffic control plays a fundamental role in accident prevention within a generally clear and detailed regulatory framework. However, some air navigation service providers have been involved in legal proceedings following birdstrike events; at least in one case the Control Tower has been sentenced by a Court to refund part of the damage following an assignment of liability.

With this paper  Valter Battistoni aims to provide an analysis of the ICAO regulation on this matter, not just to ascertain possible liabilities of air traffic control in birdstrike events, but rather to assess whether and how the aforementioned regulation takes into account the role of ATC in preventive actions for safety purposes. It will also seek to understand whether the ICAO regulation is applied in a uniform way in the technical manuals of different countries, or if dissimilar interpretations exist. This is also in consideration of the introduction in several airports of new remote sensing instruments, avian radars, which will also pose additional problems of management and responsibility.

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