I've heard about lots of bird strike incidents that occured during a takeoff roll or the early phase of takeoff climb but hardly heard of bird strikes on approach or landing. Are bird strikes much less common on approach or landing than on takeoff or initial takeoff climb? If they are, why is it?
I've heard about lots of bird strike incidents that occured during a takeoff roll or the early phase of takeoff climb but hardly heard of bird strikes on approach or landing.
This is always a dangerous thing. Only because you hear more bird strikes that occur on takeoff, it does not mean there are more at takeoff.
I found, for example, this report about bird strikes from the year 2000. It says:
[...] 38% of the bird strikes occurred during take-off and climb, and 56% during approach [...]
That means there are more bird strikes during approach than on takeoff. I assume things haven't changed a lot since then.
This question is even answered in the Wildlife FAQ Section of the FAA:
Q: Do most bird strikes occur while in flight, at takeoff, or landing?
A: About 60% of bird strikes with civil aircraft occur during landing phases of flight (descent, approach and landing roll); 37% occur during take-off run and climb; and the remainder occur during the en-route phase.
A more specific statistic:
Possible reason for subjective perception of bird-strikes happening more often during departure
I thought a little about it and came to following possible reason: After a bird-strike on final, the pilots will continue landing. It would be unwise not to land immediately. For the passengers it will look like a normal landing. If the bird damages the engine, there is only a small change of sound, because the engines are running very low.
However, when a bird-strike occurs while taking off, there is immediate action taken by the pilots. And because the engines are at or near full thrust, the sound of a dying engine can be perceived by the passengers. Last but not least, a departing aircraft has a much higher speed than a landing one, which means more damage.
So, for newspapers, a bird-strike at take-off is more dramatic and drama sells.
- More damage to the plane than a bird-strike on final
- Passengers not reaching their destination
- Dramatic passenger interviews about their "near-death-experience"
A newspaper is not interested in a bird-strike on final, where everything went fine and no passenger noticed anything.
To support my theorem, I googled "bird strike" and clicked on the "News"-tab. I looked through every article that had to do something with an bird-strike incident. 5 out of 6 articles were about a bird-strike on take-off. That's over 80%.
If its true that birdstrikes are more common on landing, a possible reason for this could be noise.
Aircraft taking off at 100% power are making a lot more noise than an aircraft on final at or near idle. Birds flying through the air may not hear an idling aircraft coming from behind. Keep in mind that a bird flying through the air at 30 or 40 knots has a lot of wind noise around its head, (similar to sticking your head out the window of your car), so unless the aircraft is making a lot of noise (such as during take-off) the bird may not turn its head to see the 737 approaching from behind.