The Wright brothers were the first men to fly a fixed-wing airplane in 1903. Only two years later, Orville Wright would become the first man to have his plane collide mid-flight with a bird.
Today, over a century later, planes are still at risk of being downed by their feathered counterparts in the sky.
On Sept. 10, a Boeing 737 leaving Abbotsford International Airport was forced to make an emergency landing after colliding with a flock of birds shortly after take off. The pilots were able to land the plane safely without further incident.
They were lucky. The pilots were able to land the plane safely without further incident.
While incidents of bird-strikes are rare, they’re not as rare as one would hope.
|The damage to an F-16 canopy after a bird-strike. (U.S. Air Force Command photo.)|
Most would not assume a 2 kg pigeon could do much damage to a plane weighing over 40,000 kg, but birds pose serious risks to aircraft of all types – and the record shows it.
The most frequent time collisions occur are during a plane’s takeoff due to the birds flying at a lower altitude.
Around 90 per cent of these incidents happen around airports, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration estimates U.S. aviation suffers $400 million in damage annually from bird-strikes and over 200 deaths since 1988 can be attributed to them.
Below is a list of the top five deadly bird-strike incidents:
5) Louisiana, 2009. A red-tailed hawk blasted through the windscreen of a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter. The impact of the bird shattered the windscreen, activated the engine fire suppression controls, delaying the helicopter’s throttles and forcing the engines to lose power. The subsequent crash left eight out of nine passengers dead.
4) Paris, 1995. During its takeoff, a Dassault Falcon 20 sucked in multiple lapwings through its engines which severed its fuel lines, causing one of its engines to fail. A fire ignited near the rear of the cabin and the pilots lost control while attempting to make an emergency landing. All 10 passengers were killed.
3) Alaska, 1995. A U.S. Air Force Boeing E-3 Sentry ingested multiple Canadian Geese into both of its engines on the same wing during takeoff. The engines started to dump fuel and lost power which caused the plane to lose altitude. The plane crashed into a wooded area and exploded killing all 24 crew members.
2) Bahir Dar, 1988. A flock of speckled pigeons were pulled into the engines of a Boeing 737 passenger airplane as it took off from the runway. One of its engines lost thrust instantly. The other engine failed shortly after during an emergency landing. The 737 crash landed and caught fire, killing 35 of 98 passengers.
1) Boston, 1960. A Lockheed L-188 Electra flew through a large flock of 120 starlings shortly after takeoff causing all four engine to fail before it crashed into Boston harbour. The time from the takeoff to hitting the water was under a minute. Sixty-two out of the 72 passengers died in the greatest loss of life from a bird-strike on record.