Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sharing The Sky

The birds were using the sky long before we pilots were

Regional Jet
On November 15, 2010, an Embraer 170-200 LR regional jet operated by Compass Airlines as flight 5887, collided with a flock of birds shortly after departing the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP) in Minnesota. The intended destination was Missoula, Mont.

The flight departed runway 30R and was climbing through 5,000 feet at 250 knots when the collision occurred. The flight crew decided to return to the airport since they didn't know the severity of damage. Inspection revealed damage to the radar dome. The forward pressure bulkhead web contained a dent and puncture. The left engine was damaged. None of the 80 people on board was injured.

Beech 95B-55
On April 6, 2010, a Beech 95-B55 operated by the State of North Dakota's Attorney General's Office hit several mallard ducks during cruise flight at 4,200 feet over Center, North Dakota. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed.

The pilot in command, in the left seat, was under a hood for instrument practice. The flight instructor, in the right seat, was seriously injured when one duck crashed through the right cockpit windshield and struck his face.

The flight had departed Bismarck Municipal Airport, Bismarck, N.D., en route to Hazen, N.D. They returned to Bismarck. The pilot-in-command said he heard a "loud pop" and felt a "violent rush of air."

Cessna 208B
On February 18, 2010, a Cessna 208B struck a bird while on approach to Sacramento International Airport, Sacramento, Calif. The airplane was on a Part 135 cargo flight. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant, wasn't injured. The airplane's right wing was damaged.

The pilot told investigators that when he was approaching runway 16R, at 300 feet AGL, he saw about five large birds. The pilot felt an impact to the airplane, and the airplane rolled to the right. The pilot corrected the roll with opposite aileron and rudder input and landed.

Remains from the bird were sent to the Smithsonian for identification. According to the test results, the remains were identified as from a tundra swan.

Beech C99
On November 4, 2009, a Beech C-99 on a Part 135 cargo flight had a bird strike while on approach to Show Low Regional Airport (SOW), Show Low, Ariz. The commercial pilot received minor injuries. The left front pilot windshield was damaged. The flight originated at Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), Phoenix, Ariz.

The bird strike occurred just after the pilot began the descent into SOW. At about 11,000 feet MSL, a bird struck the windshield, making an 11-inch by 8-inch hole. Remains from the bird were identified by the Smithsonian as a western grebe. The average weight of this species is 3.3 pounds.

On July 31, 2009, the number-two engine of a Raytheon BE-400A twin-engine jet was damaged by at least one bird while on its takeoff roll at Sugar Land Municipal Airport (SGR), Houston, Texas. The intended destination was New Orleans, La.

The captain told investigators the airplane was almost at 95 knots when one large and two smaller birds were seen flying across the airplane's path from left to right. He described the two smaller birds as "sparrow" sized and the larger bird as a heron about four or five times larger than the smaller birds. The pilots were unable to react before at least one of the birds struck the airplane.

The captain reported the right engine immediately lost all power and they rejected the takeoff. Examination showed all but one of the right engine fan blades were fractured and the inlet duct had separated from the front of the engine and was hanging from the engine.

Bird remains were sent to the Smithsonian's Feather Identification Laboratory. The bird was identified as a yellow-crowned night heron.

Lancair LC42-550FG
The four-seat, tricycle-gear, low-wing airplane struck birds while landing at Ocean City Municipal Airport, Ocean City, N.J., on July 4, 2009. The pilot and passenger were not injured. The flight had departed Lancaster Airport in Pennsylvania.

The pilot said that two Canada geese wandered onto the runway from the surround-ing grassy area. The geese made contact with the airplane's propeller and the right main landing gear. After striking the geese, the airplane veered off the right side of the runway and then struck a concrete runway light-mounting pad.

Examination of the airport and surrounding area by a wildlife biologist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed that approximately 30 Canada geese permanently inhabited the area surrounding the airport's runway, the adjacent city-owned golf course, and an adjacent marsh. At the time, no perimeter fencing existed between the marsh and the airport to keep wildlife off of the airport. A wildlife-control program subsequently was put into effect at the airport.


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