Australian aviation wildlife strike statistics: Bird and animal strikes 2002 to 2011


Why we have done this report
A significant proportion of all occurrences reported to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) involve aircraft striking wildlife, especially birds. The aim of the ATSB's statistical report series is to give information back to pilots, aerodrome and airline operators, regulators, and other aviation industry participants to assist them with controlling the risks associated with bird and animal strikes. This report updates the first edition published in 2010 with data from 2010-2011.

What the ATSB found
In 2011, there were 1,751 birdstrikes reported to the ATSB. Most birdstrikes involved high capacity air transport aircraft. For high capacity aircraft operations, reported birdstrikes have increased from 400 to 980 over the last 10 years of study, and the rate per aircraft movement also increased. Domestic high capacity aircraft (such as Boeing 737 and Airbus A320) were those most often involved in birdstrikes, and the strike rate per aircraft movement for these aircraft was significantly higher than all other categories. Larger high capacity aircraft (such as Boeing 747 and Airbus A340 and A380) had a significantly lower strike rate. One in eight birdstrikes for turbofan aircraft involved an engine ingestion.

Takeoff and landing was the most common part of a flight for birdstrikes to occur in aeroplanes, while helicopters sustained strikes mostly while parked on the ground, or during cruise and approach to land. Birdstrikes were most common between 7:30 am and 10:30 am each morning, with a smaller peak in birdstrikes between 6pm and 8pm at night, especially for bats.

All major airports except Hobart and Darwin had high birdstrike rates per aircraft movement in the past 2 years compared with the average for the decade. Avalon Airport had a relatively small number of birdstrikes, but along with Alice Springs, had the largest strike rates per aircraft movement for all towered aerodromes in the past 2 years.

In 2010 and 2011, the most common types of birds struck by aircraft were bats/flying foxes, galahs, kites and lapwings/plovers. Galahs were more commonly involved in strikes of multiple birds. Not surprisingly, larger birds were more likely to result in aircraft damage.

Animal strikes were relatively rare. The most common animals involved were hares and rabbits, kangaroos and wallabies, and dogs and foxes. Damaging 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. While it is uncommon that a birdstrike causes any harm to aircraft crew and passengers, many result in damage to aircraft, and some have resulted in serious consequential events, such as forced landings and high speed rejected takeoffs.

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 helps everyone in the aviation industry to better manage their safety risk.

Type: Research and Analysis Report
Investigation number: AR-2012-031
Publication date: 4 June 2012
ISBN: 978-1-74251-265-5
Related: Bird Strikes
Last update 07 April 2014
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