What precautions are taken to avoid bird strikes?

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) reported 65,139 bird strikes for 2011-14, and the Federal Aviation Authority counted 177,269 wildlife strike reports on civil aircraft between 1990 and 2015, growing 38% in 7 years from 2009 to 2015. Birds accounted for 97%.

• What precautions are taken so that birds are not killed by aircraft?

• Is the pilot held responsible or does the pilot pay some penalty in case innocent animals are killed?

• Are there any planes which have been designed specifically focusing on bird safety (or have there been any efforts in designing planes focused on bird safety)?

• Where can I get reports on the number of bird strikes per year on an international level?

Note: This question does not concern the damages the airline suffers from bird strikes.

• You should consider splitting this into multiple questions. You are asking four questions at once here. – Jimy Jul 20 '17 at 15:05
• To be "held responsible" implies some sort of malintent/carelessness. I don't think any pilot has much control, nor ill-intention, when a birdstrike occurs. Its not like they fly around looking for birds to hit. – Jamiec Jul 20 '17 at 15:34
• "Does the pilot pays some penalty in case when innocent animal killed?" The pilot is punished by a hefty repair bill at best, and with his ( and possibly his passengers) life in return at worst. – Ron Beyer Jul 20 '17 at 20:17
• Related: 1) what precautions are taken so that mosquitos are not killed by the impact with a car's windshield driving faster than 30km/h? 2) Is driver held responsible or does he pay some penalty when innocent insects are killed? 3) Is there any car which has been specifically designed focusing insect safety? 4) Where can I get reports of information of number of insects killed per year on an international level? – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Jul 21 '17 at 9:39
• @GypsyCosmonaut you might want to consider the simple fact that the real environmental impact of airplanes is that they are very polluting. It is a safe bet that they kill far more species through pollution than the odd bird impact. It seems strange that you'd choose to focus on such a minor source of avian deaths. – terdon Jul 21 '17 at 15:18

Humans are more important than animals by "most" societal standards. Therefore, bird safety is secondary to human safety (pilots and passengers). However, there are certain areas (in US) that are designated as protected areas for certain types of birds, such as in California where I have seen protected areas for the California Condor which requires pilots to fly at a certain altitude above that area. On VFR Sectional Charts the special conservation areas are depicted as indicated here:

These conservation area restrictions are mostly to avoid disturbing the birds, but I assume it also reduces the risk of a bird strike by requiring the aircraft to fly higher over these areas.

One of the most important precautions is for pilots to remain vigilant and see and avoid, but that is not always possible when a flock of thousands of birds takes off near an airport when airplanes are landing and taking off.

Some airports use various methods (see links provided) to scare flocks of birds away such as using hawks, noise, and other methods.

I don't know of any aircraft that are designed for the safety of birds. I believe this is a very low priority in aircraft design.

Try checking the Audubon Society website, they have a lot of information on risk to birds and statistics on such risks.

• Some aircraft are inherently bird-safe: birds can usually dodge aircraft moving at 70 knots or slower, so ultralights and some small aircraft pretty much don't get hit. – Mark Jul 21 '17 at 0:12
• "I don't know of any aircraft that are designed for bird safety." Birds hitting the structure of an aircraft are not usually a big deal, except for relatively fragile parts such as the cockpit windows. In any case, birds will only hit the "front-facing" parts of the structure, which excludes most of the fuselage. On the other hand designing and certifying aircraft engines against bird strike is a very big deal, with detailed airworthiness requirements. – alephzero Jul 21 '17 at 3:16
• @alephzero I’m pretty sure that in that sentence, “designed for bird safety” refers to safety of the birds. Aircraft engines are not designed and certified to ensure safety of the striking birds, but to ensure the safety of the engine. – Emil Jeřábek Jul 21 '17 at 17:16
• There is 0.0 concern about bird safety in engine design. Indeed the bird strike considerations in large engine design is that (obviously) the engine has to survive intact, and that means the animal has to be ideally shredded as finely as possible as quickly as possible. This is an incredibly difficult engineering challenge, given that some birds are large and the speeds involved are enormous. – Fattie Sep 27 '18 at 14:11

In aviation, the question is not what precautions are taken to save birds from being killed by aircraft, the question is what precautions are taken to prevent aircraft being hit by birds.

To prevent bird strikes at airports, several precautions will be taken.

Making birds not feel comfortable in the airport area

This will be achieved by doing following things:

• Tall Grass The grass at airports is usually kept tall (> 25cm). This allows mice to hide and many birds, that rely on such food, can't see them.

• Removing sources of food In the vicinity of the airport, all occurrences of the rowanberry will be removed. Birds have lost a big food source.

In some cases, fireworks are used to evict birds from the airport area. But this happens very rarely, because the birds can get used to it.

At Frankfurt airport, they have even brought ten foxes to live in the airport. They hope they eat most of the mice, so birds will find even less mice to eat.

Another system in Frankfurt detects big swarms of migratory birds flying over the Main River. Because the Main River crosses the approach on one runway, they always have to know if birds are flying over the river. The system detects swarms and calculates estimated arrival at the runway track. ATC will be automatically warned.

The pilot is also not responsible when innocent animals get killed. It is impossible to avoid a bird. It is usually not seen before impact as well. I talked with a drone pilot from the Austrian army once. He said the crew of an airplane needs around 10-13 seconds to detect an object, to be able to take action. A bird strike can be predicted maybe 1 second before impact. A pilot can do absolutely nothing.

It looks like you like birds very much, me too, but in aviation, human safety is always the first priority.

There are also no aircraft that are designed for bird safety. I can't even imagine how something like that could work. Sorry to say it: aviation has so many other more important things to consider. Saving birds' lives is not important in this industry.

• After reading your answer, I saw the Irony here. We a made bird which killed the birds. We care for the bird but not for the birds. – GypsyCosmonaut Jul 20 '17 at 20:26
• " I talked with a drone pilot from the Austrian army once. He said it takes around 10-13 seconds for a crew of an airplane to detect an object. A bird strike can be predicted maybe 1 second before impact." I dont understand what you mean, does it take 1 second or 13 seconds to detect birds? – Ksery Jul 21 '17 at 16:03

A pilot can face stiff fines or community service, though these penalties can be difficult to enforce, as the pilots and FAA rarely honor the results of the proceedings.

Jurors leave the "Massacre on the Hudson" trial after declaring a hung jury.

For instance in the famous "Massacre on the Hudson" trial, matters of poor airgooseship dominated the trial: Whether the inexperienced skein leader was in fact squawking, and whether he was listening to the advice of geese more experienced operating in the New York TRACON. Also, the gaggle had failed to check NOTAGs for the region, though no NOTAGs of concern had been issued.

Ultimately in a second trial, the jury declined to find criminal wrongdoing, and issued a civil sanction that geese should poop on USAir aircraft on the ground when practicable. This seems to have been effective, as such aircraft largely disappeared in 2016.

• This answer is as unappreciated as it is well done! This is precisely the answer this question needs & deserves. Very nicely played indeed! – Ralph J Jul 23 '17 at 5:15
1. It is more the other way around: How to save aircraft from being hit by birds and by default; no hit on the aircraft means the bird is happy as well. The danger comes from the bird damaging the aircraft or incapacitating the flight crew possibly causing even more carnage on the ground.

2. Unless the bird is an endangered species or the pilot deliberately attempted to strike the bird, I am unaware of any "penalties" for a bird strike. If anything, the penalty is going to be harsh in that the pilot or his insurance company for the damage or loss to the aircraft and/or persons. No pilot in his/her right mind would ever deliberately attempt strike a bird in flight.

3. Yes, the LearJets contain a metal blade from to to bottom in the middle of the windscreen specifically designed as a "bird splitter". This is to reduce the amount of impact against the windscreen (although birds have bypassed the splitter and decapitated pilots). (Reference: http://www.royalair.com/PDFs/Learjet_Product_History.pdf Models 24 and 24A, page 4)

4. You can contact the National Transportation Safety Board to search for bird strike information as it relates to bird strikes on transportation.

All in all compared to birds striking wind turbines, highway vehicles, etc., the amount of strikes against aircraft are relatively low.

• Do you have any reference for the design of the LearJet to specifically have a blade for bird strikes? That's a pretty amusing fact. – JPhi1618 Jul 20 '17 at 17:10
• Also, compared to the number of birds killed by wind turbines, aircraft strikes are relatively low. – Devil07 Jul 20 '17 at 17:22
• Are there cases of intentionally hitting birds? – corsiKa Jul 20 '17 at 17:45
• Concerning #3, I don't think the OP had "bird splitter" in mind when they asked about "bird safety design". – isanae Jul 20 '17 at 18:35
• @tnorris the bird, not the pilot. – GypsyCosmonaut Jul 20 '17 at 20:03

Gives some examples for our local airport. But essentially:

To protect birds

Don't build airports in habitats that are unique and house endangered birds. Build theme where the birds can go elsewhere.

To Protect the people

• dogs
• lights
• sirens
• bangs
• guns
• bleak barren land
• spikes
• fencing
• lack of food and water

All help keep the birds away.