On 11 July 2017, a SOCATA TB-10 Tobago aircraft collided with an object at approximately 6.30pm during its final approach at Parafield Airport in South Australia.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) commenced an investigation and swabs were taken of the damaged area on the leading edge of the right wing. Those swabs were tested for DNA by the Australian Museum, and the results have established that the object struck was a grey-headed flying fox. 

This finding is consistent with the known behaviours of flying foxes, who can travel up to 50 kilometres from their roosts to feed at night.

As a result of this evidence, the ATSB is discontinuing its investigation, concluding the cause of the incident was wildlife strike.

Chief Commissioner Greg Hood said wildlife strike was the most common occurrence reported to the ATSB.

“Last year there was a total of 1954 incidents and accidents involving aircraft collisions with wildlife reported to the ATSB. Our research has found that bats and flying foxes, swallows and martins, kites, and lapwings and plovers are the most commonly struck type of flying animal.

“We will continue to provide information to pilots, aerodrome and airline operators, regulators, and other aviation industry participants on managing the risks associated with bird and animal strikes as part of our focus on improving transport safety.”

The Chief Commissioner also acknowledged the work of the Australian Centre for Wildlife Genomics within the Australian Museum in analysing the samples and delivering its final report to the ATSB.

Further information: AO-2017-073

Media enquiries: 1800 020 616 or ATSBInfo@atsb.gov.au 

Last update 23 November 2017

Related link

In-flight collision with object, SOCATA TB-10 Tobago, VH-YTG, Parafield Airport, South Australia on 11 July 2017