Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bird strike news

Bird strikes are very real and very dangerous. Here is a report of one from last month.

Bird strike sends U.S. Airways flight back to Norfolk
By Cindy Clayton, Debbie Messina
The Virginian-Pilot
November 2, 2010

FAA data reflect 302 bird strikes from 2000 through 2008 at Hampton Roads airports, including Norfolk International, Newport News/Williamsburg International, Norfolk Naval Station and Oceana Naval Air Station. The majority, 201, occurred at Norfolk International.

A US Airways flight had to turn around and head back to Norfolk International Airport Monday morning after a bird struck one of its engines.

The pilot reported a vibration in one of the engines as the Boeing 737-400 reached about 1,000 feet elevation and was headed toward the Chesapeake Bay, said Robert Bowen, the airport’s deputy executive director.

Airport police were notified at 7:26 a.m. that the pilot had decided to return to the airport, Bowen said. The plane, with 137 passengers and five crew members, landed safely a few minutes later.

According to US Airways, Flight 943 was headed for Charlotte, N.C. The passengers were booked on other flights. The airline declined to allow an interview with the pilot.

Four fan blades inside the engine were damaged, Bowen said. All that was left of the bird was some blood. A sample was taken and will be sent to the Smithsonian Institution, where a DNA test should indicate the type of bird.

The results will take about two weeks, Bowen said. The information also will be entered into a Federal Aviation Administration database that tracks such incidents.

Bowen said it’s the first time in recent history that a pilot declared an emergency at the Norfolk airport because of a bird strike.

“We’ve had pilots report bird strikes and land, but they’ve not declared an emergency,” Bowen said.

Hampton Roads airports - including Norfolk International, Newport News/Williamsburg International, Norfolk Naval Station and Oceana Naval Air Station - reported 302 bird strikes from 2000 through 2008, according to FAA data.

The bulk of the strikes, 201, occurred at Norfolk International. From the end of that FAA reporting period through last month, the airport reported another 46, Bowen said.

The airport has a federally mandated wildlife control plan, which includes managing bird populations through capture and preventing eggs from hatching, scaring birds away with noise guns and monitoring bird activity by the airport fire department.

The airport also works with Norfolk Botanical Garden to control the bird population on nearby Lake Whitehurst.

Airplane collisions with wildlife have more than doubled at 13 major U.S. airports since 2000, the FAA has reported.

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