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Australian aviation wildlife strike statistics: 2006 - 2015

Summary

Why we have done this report

Occurrences involving aircraft striking wildlife, particularly birds, are the most common aviation occurrence reported to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB). Strikes with birds continue to be a potential safety risk and present a significant economic risk for aerodrome and airline operators. The aim of the ATSB’s statistical report series is to provide information back to pilots, aerodrome and airline operators, regulators, and other aviation industry participants to assist them with managing the risks associated with bird and animal strikes. This report updates the last edition published in 2014 with data from 2014 – 2015.

What the ATSB found

Between 2006 and 2015, there were 16,069 birdstrikes reported to the ATSB, most of which involved high capacity air transport aircraft. Both the number and rate of birdstrikes per 10,000 movements in high capacity operations have increased markedly in the past two years 2014­ – 2015. In contrast, the number of birdstrikes in low capacity operations and general aviation has remained relatively consistent. In the two years since 2013, the rates for six of the ten major airports have increased relative to ten year averages. The largest increase in the rate of birdstrikes was observed at Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Gold Coast and Sydney.

Domestic high capacity aircraft were those most often involved in birdstrikes, and the birdstrike rate per aircraft movement for these aircraft was significantly higher than all other categories. The number of engine bird ingestions for high capacity air transport operations had been increasing until 2011, but has since decreased slightly. Still, about one in ten birdstrikes for turbofan aircraft involved a bird ingested into an engine.

The four most commonly struck types of flying animal in the 2014 to 2015 period were: bats/flying foxes, Swallow/Martins, Kites, and Lapwings/Plovers. Swallows and Martins had the most significant increase in the number of reported birdstrikes per year in the last two years, with these species being involved in an average of 96 birdstrikes per year for 2014 and 2015 compared with 65 per year on average across the entire 10-year reporting period. Galahs were more commonly involved in birdstrikes of multiple birds, with more than 38 per cent of Galah strikes involving more than one Galah. However, larger birds were more likely to result in aircraft damage.

This report presents a new species mass analysis which estimates that over the ten years between 2006 and 2015, 766 kg of flying animals were struck per year by aircraft in Australia. Additionally, for every 1 kg increase in animal mass, the likelihood of a birdstrike causing damage increases by 12.5%.

Compared to birdstrikes, ground-based animal strikes are relatively rare. The most common animals involved were hares and rabbits, kangaroos, wallabies, and dogs / foxes. Damaging animal strikes mostly involved kangaroos, wallabies and livestock.

Safety message

Australian aviation wildlife strike statistics provide a reminder to everyone involved in the operation of aircraft and aerodromes to be aware of the hazards posed to aircraft by birds and non-flying animals. Timely and thorough reporting of birdstrikes is paramount. The growth of reporting to the ATSB that has been seen over the last 10 years has helped to better understand the nature of birdstrikes, and what and where the major safety risks lie. This assists the aviation industry to better manage their safety risk.  Over the ten years from 2006 to 2015, 42% of all birdstrikes reported to the ATSB contained no species information.  The more accurately this information is provided to the ATSB, the more accurate and useful reports like this one will be.

Type: Statistical Publication
Investigation number: AR-2016-063
Publication date: 1 February 2017
Related: Bird Strikes
 
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Last update 22 February 2017
 
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