Related How do insects decrease aircraft performance? This questions made me think was these effects actually noticeable in an any flights- maybe the pilots had to big changes to their flight management or did they reach emergency conditions?

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    $\begingroup$ Are you limiting this to a certain category of flights? If not, then not being able to take off until the bugs were cleaned off should count... $\endgroup$ – UnrecognizedFallingObject Mar 30 '17 at 23:55
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    $\begingroup$ @Pugz NTSB Accident Database enter as little or as much information in the form as you want, then submit the query at the bottom. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Mar 31 '17 at 14:49
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    $\begingroup$ Went through a whole bunch of the "insect" hits on the NTSB site. So far they're all about insect debris clogging things - pitot tubes, fuel lines, vent lines, etc. I have yet to find anything about problems from insects striking the plane in flight. $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Mar 31 '17 at 19:11
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    $\begingroup$ Wasp induced pitot blockage was the primary factor in the crash of Birgenair Flight 301 $\endgroup$ – user2617804 Mar 31 '17 at 23:07
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    $\begingroup$ Insects don't fly at 30,000 feet. $\endgroup$ – Tyler Durden Jun 5 '17 at 12:24

It is conceivable that an accumulation of bugs on the leading edge of an airfoil would affect its performance. In fact, the in flight accumulation of bugs occurs at such a low rate, and only at low altitude, that it's not a problem.

Above a few thousand feet AGL, bug density is negligible. A car, driving at night, or a small plane flying for hours at low altitude may accumulate a mess of bugs. Even so, such change in airfoil shape and affect on drag is miniscule on powered aircraft that normally spend moments, not hours, at such low altitude, above which there is no bug density.

The common hazard of bugs hitting the fuselage is restriction to visibility through the windscreen. Bugs on the windscreen can make it difficult to see other aircraft and creates a myopic focus point for the eyes.

Another conceivable problem is blockage of inlets and ports, through most certificated aircraft are designed with alternate systems, e.g. bypass and redundancies to deal with such emergency. Flight into icing conditions, heavy rain and ash are of concerns here.

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  • $\begingroup$ The link claims that insects affects the air flow due their very small size wings being effective at micro-level without necessarily accumulating. Is that claim garbage? $\endgroup$ – user2617804 Jun 5 '17 at 12:56
  • $\begingroup$ Bugs accumulate on the leading edge of airfoil surfaces and are of no practical concern. Disturbance on the wing surface has potential to affect laminar flow, e.g. frost. $\endgroup$ – STWilson Jun 5 '17 at 13:33
  • $\begingroup$ Is that effect significant- got to avoid a locust swarm might destabilise the plane or trivial the frost pattern changes and it makes gives no control issues? $\endgroup$ – user2617804 Jun 6 '17 at 0:46
  • $\begingroup$ I'm reminded of a question I asked my motorcycle instructor, "When should I swerve to avoid an animal?" He answered, "If you can eat it in one sitting, hit it." I still don't know what to do. $\endgroup$ – STWilson Jun 6 '17 at 0:52

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