Official: Bird strikes common, rarely cause problems - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Anna Marie Hartman

Official: Bird strikes common, rarely cause problems

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Bird strikes like the one that took down US Airways flight 1549 are complications that are more common than you might think.  In 2007, federal officials say, more than 7,500 bird strikes were reported worldwide, including one at Memphis International Airport.

But, Scott Brockman of the Memphis Airport Authority said Friday, Memphis International Airport has a wildlife management plan that exceeds federal safety regulations.
 
"Which would mean removing nesting areas removing trees which are attractants," Brockman said.
 
And though it's not required, Memphis International hired two wildlife biologists who are constantly monitoring wildlife patterns.  Despite that, flights in and out of Memphis have experienced bird strikes. 

According to a joint report by the USDA and the FAA, an Airbus 319 had to return to Memphis International in 2000 after a bird was ingested into an engine.

In 2001, a flock of geese crossed paths with a 727.  One bird penetrated the cockpit spraying the pilot with blood and remains.   The cost to repair the airplane was more than $700,000.

There were similar incidents in 2003 and 2007.   Brockman, however, says he doesn't dwell on the statistics. 

"I'm sure that there have been reported bird strikes over time, none of which have created particular safety problems," he said.

Bird strikes don't always result in a dramatic landing like that of Fight 1549, but the staff of Memphis International airport is always on the lookout, because the threat is real, and the damage can be dangerous.

In January 2007, a military jet on a training mission crashed after colliding with a flock of geese in Batesville, Mississippi.  The pilot and the trainee ejected from the plane, and no one was injured.

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