The most relevant event of the month is definitely that occurred on the 30th at Lahore, when a Shaheen Air B737 veered right off the runway after landing. According to preliminary information the aircraft suffered a bird strike on the upper nose gear strut and received damage to the nose wheel steering control cable; however the runway excursion would have been caused by the collapse of the left main gear strut and therefore the relationship between these two events is still not clear. Actually the bird strike is supposed not to be the cause of the incident.
With the review of the relevant occurrences of December, which will be released in early January 2015, the monthly diffusion of the wildlife strike data will come to an end.
This website works in the field of prevention since 2007 and in these past seven years has tried to provide not only the news collected from the specialist press on the various events, but also comments, observations, articles, in other words everything that may help in raising the safety culture in this particular area.
In particular we believe we played an useful role in the legal field, publishing all the known Court sentences regarding wildlife strikes, as well as presenting the investigation reports issued by the various authorities worldwide.
From now on, the reports will be released at a quarterly rate; we come to this back step especially in order to contain the costs of maintaining and updating the website, which contains no advertising and does not receive subsidies of any kind. Certainly the feeling of common indifference and the ill-concealed condescending air that we perceive in the aviation world on these issues do not help; actually, to put it mildly, the phenomenon of wildlife strike does not seem to garner the attention it deserves. It appears as if the matter was confined in the precinct of the unavoidable events, so at the end of the day it would result more convenient strengthening the insurance coverage rather than increasing security measures.
A back step does not mean an abandonment of the field however ; we are and will remain attentive to what happens in Italy and all over the world and ready either to inform or to intervene, should anybody ask for our advice.
We take the opportunity to wish our readers a Merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year .
(Website owner and manager)
The event occurred on the 6th reminds us one of the basics of prevention against wildlife strikes: to have a solid and efficient fence. The airport of Surat (Indian town with more than four million inhabitants) became operational again for commercial flights in the year 2007, so it would seem difficult to think of a FENCE degradation due to the action of time and weather. This accident could have had much more serious consequences. The Indian authorities immediately ordered a series of investigations about all the country airports and Spicejet suspended its flights to Surat with immediate effect.
Few weeks later (30) another mammal, fortunately smaller, was struck on a runway, this time in Dayton, USA.
The event of the 8th raises concern because it is not clear when the engine has been shut down; in other words, if the impact with the buzzard surely happened on takeoff, we don’t know if the engine continued to run normally at least until the final approach, when it was definitely off, or if it was shut down immediately and the crew continued the flight to destination with a single engine: they are two very different situations.
But the most important event was undoubtedly that of the 12th in Aalborg, where the sixth dual ingestion (in a twin-engine) of the year occurred. Nobody should now speak of rare and statistically insignificant events.
The 2013 BSCI annual report is now available (in Italian) in the ENAC official website:
Our observations and comments will follow soon, as usual, on this website.
The event of Oct. 2 in China let us understand that in some airport in the world a reliable bird control service is not yet available. Similarly it reminds us about the need for clear instructions to the crew by the airlines, and probably specific training, about the proper behavior in the event of flying through a flocks of birds and in the following phases.
The two events of the 9th at Zurich and Cluj seem they were made for emphasizing the differences in the pilot behaviors facing a bird strike on takeoff; in the first case, given the carcass found on the runway, doubts could arise regarding a possible ingestion. In our opinion that’s a praiseworthy decision.
Four events in few days at Amsterdam, that follow other three in August: we don’t know anything about the species involved but everything suggests, given the current season, they are cases linked to bird migration.
This month presented several interesting cases. The events of the days 8 and 18 have been discussed above speaking about "abnormal parameters." Also significant are the events of the 10th and 11th: in both cases among the damages to the aircraft, there is also a broken passenger window, presumably due to the collision with a bird violently thrown by the propeller blade, and in the second (11) even minor injuries for a crew member. Finally, another multiple impact as a result of flying through a flock of birds in Burgas: this airport had already a similar event in 2008, and the following year, after the publication of the investigation final report, we commented the conclusions (see: Archives 2009 "September 3, a case to meditate on").
Two similar events occurred in this month reopen the old question of the continuation of the flight after a bird ingestion into the engines at take-off "in the absence of abnormal parameters." All those who follow this website can immediately notice the differences in the pilot behaviors in presence of similar cases; there are those who immediately land and those who decide to continue to their destination, only to then divert to another airport or realize on arrival that the aircraft has suffered significant damage. Of course there is also the possibility that the crew does not notice anything.
Given that the pilot discretion must remain a priority, there are questions however on what ground the pilots base their assessment on whether to continue the flight. In the case of Lufthansa A340 (August 8) the crew must surely have assessed they could fly several hours over the mainland with dozens of possible airports available in case of need, not to mention that losing an engine out of four is certainly not a tragedy, not even over the ocean. An immediate landing maybe would have made the consequences worse for the passengers and for the airline. However, even in this case the amount of damages suffered, if known before, would probably have suggested a different decision.
In the case of the THY A320 (18 August), even considering the route entirely on the mainland, the decision to continue can’t easily be justified, given the type of impact (the aircraft flew through a flock of birds) and the extent of damage suffered, certainly perceived by the crew. Furthermore it was a case of bird ingestion into both engines of a twin-engine. We know that the consequences of an ingestion, especially at take-off can occur hours and even days after the event, and - for example - a damaged fan blade can break suddenly putting out of order the entire engine.
The airlines generally do not have a common policy on the pilot behaviors for these cases, in fact most of the time they do not have any policy, delegating to them the duty and responsibility to take the most appropriate decision. In no airline manual one may find the order to land immediately after an impact with a bird, single or multiple. However, in a matter of fact they make psychological pressures on their pilots to hold down the costs, to bring back the aircraft to the airline headquarter, to not discharge tons of fuel, and so on.
Obviously not to the point of affecting safety: in presence of engine abnormal parameters landing is a must; however, there is a “gray zone” in which one is certain to have received an impact but everything continues to work properly and one does not know what to do: go back and discover that there is no damage, with the risk of receiving a scolding, or continue trusting in the aircraft.
We believe this is an issue that should interest not only the airlines (some indications on flight manuals would be appreciated) but also the aviation authorities.
A remarkable event happened in Dusseldorf (16) where there was another case of dual bird ingestion into the engines; the crew managed to stop the aircraft on the runway but in case of forced take-off the consequences would have been unpredictable. It is the fourth case this year and the second in Germany alone.
Years ago a “spectre” was wandering in the Italian skies: it looked like a bird but it was not, it was a model aircraft but made ??no sound and flew like an eagle. It was the Falco Robot, a brilliant all-Italian invention born to prevent and mitigate the presence of birds at airports. Basically a remote pilot could direct the flight of the model, which replicated in an impressive manner the shape of a large bird of prey, whose presence alone scared all the birds around who immediately abandoned the area for several hours. The device was tested at Genoa airport, where he drove to the high seas thousands of gulls settling on the outer breakwater and later at Fiumicino Airport for a month. The excellent results of this experiment were then presented at meetings and published and are also available on this web site.
One would have expected a wide use of the device in Italy, but since nobody is a “prophet in his own country”, this did not happen. Incidentally instead it met with some success in Latin America.
The patent was then sold to foreigners and the project put back in the drawer.
A few years after we see the outbreak of the drone-mania. Thousands of small machines of various shapes and types, equipped with highly advanced tools or with simple devices are now flying everywhere and even some bizarre restaurant manager uses them to deliver pizzas to the customer tables. Possible future applications are under study, like mail delivery at home, observation of vast agricultural areas, maintenance of power lines, so that the ENAC, rightly concerned about their impact on navigation safety, first in the world, adopted an ad hoc regulation, which could also be perfected but it is a step forward in the management of these devices. Devices that are now called APR in Italian (remote controlled aircraft) or SAPR (where “S” stands for system).
The Scientific Committee of the Study Center STASA, of which we are a member, recently had a meeting dedicated to the analysis of the problems arising from the use of these tools in the light of the new regulation of the CAA. Therefore we had the opportunity to bring back to life for some minutes the Falco Robot with the more modern guise of a SAPR, category to which it would belong today. We reaffirmed the absolute utility of the device at least for a tactical use (there was no chance to check its effects also in a strategic key, i.e. as a permanent deterrent), together with the difficulty of applying the new rules to this very useful product, which risks instead to be banned in the name of that same safety for which it has been created.
The regulation starts from the premise that SAPRs should be subjected to more stringent requirements and rules the closer they operate to an airport; and that is not a good start for devices born to operate right on the skies of airports. For the operations to be carried out in critical areas, and therefore at airports, then it should be made ??a request for the use of airspace, which already appears to be incompatible with the nature of the site, since they practically operate within the visual range of the Tower controller. This last assumption then leads to other problems about responsibility: who should be held responsible of the operations, the TWR or the remote pilot? And under what conditions, both the one and the other? What kind of contacts between them must be requested and by what means?
There are also many other concerns about the requirements of the remote pilot, his training, about the usefulness of some technical features of the device (even a transponder) when used in an airport, and so on. Another question regards the insurance, not just to contest its obvious necessity, but for emphasizing the difficulty for the insurer to establish its costs in the absence of historical records and a database of damages.
In conclusion we have a feeling that the regulator did not take account of this possible and desirable use of SAPRs as a bird dispersal tool at an airport, as well as other possible purposes related to safety (consider, for example, runway inspections, fence controls, apron surveillance etc ...). On the other hand we think that the law should address this innovation and set its limits, however without excessive bureaucracy (and costs) that could void the extraordinary potential of these new tools, in the name of that same safety it wants to protect .
The last month we reported an ingestion of bees into an engine; this month other insects caused an emergency landing (1) due to the occlusion of a pitot tube and the consequent airspeed data disagreement. Among the unfortunately common events, we point out that of day 13, because of the extent of damage, and that of day 14 because it presents again an old question: despite the crew was warned of a probable multiple birdstrike to an engine, in the absence of abnormal parameters they continued the flight , but were forced to divert almost immediately to another airport where they found out the bird ingestion. The old question is the crew training with regard to this type of events, as well as the policy of airlines.
New animal species enroll in the list of victims of wildlife strike, this time was a tapir weighing 250 kg . (30) that proposes the other old issue of airport fences, often missing or inefficient. This does not happen only in small airports in third world countries considering the umpteenth accident caused by a deer on the runway in the U.S.; this time the news is really amazing (30) because it happened at Charleston International Airport (source: FAA) .
The AIB concludes its report stating that “it is difficult for an airport operator to mitigate the risk of birdstrikes under such conditions, as it is unrealistic to expect a complete control of or warning capability against birds residing at unspecific locations away from the airport”. We think that such statement, as well as that previously released by the same agency on the impossibility to avoid birdstrikes, is – to put it mildly - rather controversial and with a subtle flavor of capitulation.
The Indonesian authorities have released their final report concerning the serious incident occurred at the airport of Gorontalo on 06 August 2013 (see Archive 2013), when a Lionair B737 during the landing roll impacted with some cows that were crossing the runway. The aircraft veered to the left and came to a stop on the left runway shoulder. No injuries occurred on board apart from two passengers that received sprained ankles as result of their evacuation, which was not ordered by the crew. Contributing factors to the event were the presence of cattle farms close to the airport and the broken or not installed fences around the airport perimeter.
This month we have at least two events that deserve a comment. The most serious undoubtedly occurred in Cardiff (21) where there was another case of dual ingestion of birds in both engines (of a twin-engine). Once again, unfortunately, the crew in the absence of immediate abnormal parameters decided to continue the flight, but pretty soon they had to divert. Events of this type, which could have catastrophic effects, are becoming too frequent: that’s the third case of 2014.
The other relevant case regards the ingestion of bees in the engines of a MD82 (14); in general the impact with a swarm of insects might occlude the pitot tubes causing the loss of airspeed data, and in this case it certainly caused an expensive aircraft downtime to allow the necessary inspections and cleaning operations.
First of all it must be noted that the occurrence was so far unknown. On 23 July 2013 a SAS B737 bound to Oslo, after takeoff and at an altitude of 800 ft. impacted a number of Common Shelducks (Tadorna tadorna), birds belongings to the family of Anatidae.
The impact regarded mostly the left engine which suffered significant damage and showed an increase of vibration but not a loss of thrust. For this reason the crew decided for an immediate return to Copenhagen Kastrup airport using both engines. More details on this event can be found in the final report released by AIB DK.
Particularly interesting in our opinion are the AIB conclusions that highlight a certain "fatalistic" attitude towards birdstrikes.
After mentioning the number of impacts occurred in Kastrup in 2012 (141, with a rate n/10K movements of 5.8) and in 2013 (105, 4.29), the Agency points out that with high probability they were migrating birds. The rate n/10K is an old risk index, now replaced by more modern risk assessment matrixes, but in any case the values ??close to 5 are already quite relevant.
Based on the history of birdstrikes, the AIB DK “does not consider Shelducks as a specific problem at Kastrup”. However, large numbers of migrating birds in the area “could be a threat in the future”. Furthermore considering that from 2012 to 2013 either the number of impacts or the rate decreased, that means the airport initiatives are successful. According to the AIB, a contributing factor was the circumstance that the team of Bird Control did not observe the flock of birds in flight (at 800 ft, 250 m) nor was able to intervene in any way. In addition, specific preventive activities against Shelducks are carried out from April to June, and the incident would have occurred out of season. For these reasons, the AIB does not issue any recommendation. The report ends with the remarkable statement that "it is not possible to avoid the birdstrikes."
From a long time we make on this website a statistical analysis of dual ingestions, i.e. ingestion of birds into two or more engines of the same aircraft. The most known was the one that occurred to the USAir flight 1549 on 15.1.2009, then ditched in the Hudson River. However most of the time, despite the ingestion, all or some engines still deliver the necessary power to land.
The event that we are considering occurred in Johannesburg on 9 March 2014, when a Cathay Pacific B747 shortly after takeoff flew through a flock of birds, some of which were ingested into both engines located on the right wing.
The B747 however, completely lost only the engine no. 3 (inner right), shut down by the crew, while the n. 4 (outer right), although damaged, continued to work. This allowed to perform normal three engines procedures so that the airplane flew for one more hour consuming fuel before landing back at the South African airport.
It is a fact , however, that a concrete possibility of a complete loss of two engines on the same wing really existed. The question we pose is whether under these conditions the airplane was still maneuverable, given the highly asymmetric thrust, the takeoff weight, the airport altitude, located at about 1700 m. asl, and the many other factors to be taken into account when planning the flight.
We therefore asked for an opinion a leading Italian expert on Flight Safety and Investigations , Captain Renzo Dentesano , who kindly so responded :
" A B747, once the V1 has been reached on the runway, is forced to go airborne, and if it manages to overcome the V2 and mainly the initial climb over the obstacle (which ends with the retraction of the landing gear ), is controllable in flight even with 2 engines on the same wing out of order (better if at least one on idle ! ) …..... The initial and then the recurrent training at flight simulator requires the carrying out of this emergency procedure once a year and all the maneuvers are reported in the Airline Operation Manual (memory items) - section emergencies …..All the rest…. is stuff for test pilots "
Up to this point is the expert's opinion. We therefore should conclude that one thing is the in-flight engine failure, another one is when it happens at takeoff: the former allows a certain margin for manoeuvre, the latter much less. Instead the assumption of a double engine failure on the same wing at take-off is not taken into consideration at all by airline operation manuals because it goes beyond the aircraft certification requirements . However it is possible that, at the level of flight tests, one can theoretically be able to take off under certain conditions, which certainly do not occur in scheduled flights. Furthermore we have to consider that a remarkable part of bird ingestions occurs just during the takeoff run, either because birds are settling close to the runway, or because they suddenly cross it. In conclusion, if both right engines of the 747 had stopped working after the ingestion (absolutely possible occurrence), there are strong chances that it would have resulted in a catastrophic event. Therefore we consider the Johannesburg incident as one of the most serious events in recent years. And since the flight through a flock of birds at takeoff is a relatively frequent event, the discussion must necessarily focus on the preventive measures on the ground in order to prevent, as far as is humanly possible, that flocks of birds roam uncontrolled and unpredictable within an airport or in the takeoff path.
Below, to be clearer, we report the double ingestion cases occurred only in 2013, fortunately all happily ended, proving they are not so rare events:
19/01/2013 - Orlando, Virgin Atlantic A330 (twin-engine), during the initial climb a number of birds are ingested in both engines one of which must be shut down; about 30’ later landed with only one engine and over the maximum weight allowed; damage to both engines, to the leading edge of both wings and the radome;
16/04/2013 - Dallas, American Airlines MD82 (twin engine), at take off a number of birds were ingested in both engines;
29/11/2013 - Manchester (NH), Southwest B737 (twin engine), at take-off flew through a flock of small birds some of which were probably ingested into both engines that still continued to run regularly;
Some considerations on two events of this month. In the first (22) the TWR warned the crew about the presence of birds at about 1000 ft. The controller’s behavior is correct and in the United States, differently from other countries, is ruled by the FAA regulation that makes it mandatory. The crew, however, decided to land anyway with the result of multiple birdstrikes with probable aircraft downtime and various maintenance works for many thousands of dollars. We do not know the technical reasons for this behavior but we wonder which kind of training pilots receive for facing these events and what the airline manuals say on this regard. In other words, if even a TWR warning does not produce any effect on the flight, may be pilots are not provided with all the requirements needed for a proper risk assessment. From this perspective then even the complex information system, through AIP, NOTAM and ATIS on the presence of birds, does not make sense.
The second (27) presents again the same old problem of an impact followed by "normal parameters", that leads to the continuation of the flight till destination. As first, the failure of the weather radar should have made the crew suspicious; then the photo explains better than any other comment the aircraft conditions: we wonder what damage could result if a part of the nose cone had detached and had struck a wing or had been ingested into an engine. For the record, the bird involved seems to be a goose.
Valter Battistoni, founder and manager of the website www.birdstrike.it , has been appointed member of the STASA Scientific Committee (www.stasa.it). STASA is an independent association offering a range of specialist aviation consulting and monitoring services. The association integrates aspects of air traffic control, navigation, safety, investigation and law aspects combining a team of people with not less than twenty years of experience.
In the late afternoon of 4 February the concurrence of extreme meteorological events caused thousands of gulls to invade the airport of Genoa. Indeed, the presence of snow in the inland, the sea storm on the close tidal barrier and the continuous heavy rain caused the birds to spend the night on the runway and taxiways rather than in the usual places.
Airport authorities could not do anything against the huge number of birds also because is almost impossible to disperse such a mass of birds in the dark. Very opportunely they did not wait that an incident occurred, but immediately decided to issue a NOTAM closing the airport. Many flights were canceled or diverted to other airports, causing significant inconvenience to passengers.
Although such a concurrence of events can be defined exceptional, it is not the first time that this occurs even if in the past the gulls invaded only the apron .
From a long time Genoa airport struggles with the problem of gulls, taking all possible known countermeasures and strategies, recently reporting risk indexes in line with many other airports. However, the environmental conditions, the presence of Scarpino landfill nearby, the breakwater dam and the abandoned areas of the former ILVA steelworks are formidable attractive elements. The problem will therefore remain unsolved until a solution will be found with the management of these sites, in particular the landfill. With regards to this we should consider that the closure of Malagrotta landfill resulted in a dramatic decline in the number of impacts, and in the consequent risk index, at the nearby airport of Rome Fiumicino, clear sign of a close relationship between these plants and bird strikes.
Can bird strike mitigation and eco-consciousness co-exist? Converting airport grasslands to solar arrays or installing vegetated roof spaces on buildings is compatible with bird prevention policies that instead exclude all possible perches or attractive sources for birds inside airports?
Some researchers think so, according to an article published on the magazine Jane’s Airport Review (January 2014).
The topic is undoubtedly interesting even though the researches and studies cited seem to be still insufficient.
Experience teaches us that each airport has unique environment and features so that before applying this concept on a large scale it would be appropriate waiting for further studies and field tests.