Columbus Air Force Base   Right Corner Banner
Join the Air Force

News > Discourage birds: Save lives
Discourage birds: Save lives

Posted 4/12/2012   Updated 4/12/2012 Email story   Print story


14th Flying Training Wing Safety Office

4/12/2012 - COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Birds.

To the average American their energetic chirping, colorful feathers and enviable freedom in the air makes them nice to have around. However for an aviator, bird populations carry the possibility of heavy damage to their aircraft and even death.

The heroic landing of an Airbus A320 in the Hudson River by Captain "Sully" Sullenberger is a grim reminder of the danger that wildlife poses to manned flight. From 1960 to 2004, over 122 civil aircraft and 255 lives have been lost because of wildlife strikes. Unfortunately, the military is not immune to this threat. During the same time period, wildlife strikes resulted in 333 military aircraft destroyed and 151 military personnel killed.

How can you help? By removing food, water and shelter sources such as your bird feeders, bird houses and bird baths you can help reduce the attractiveness of the base environment to our winged friends ensure the safety of our aircraft and Airmen.

While birds are very enjoyable to watch as they come to feed, they become habituated to the local area and attract predatory birds, such as hawks, that prey on food sources with large populations of smaller birds. Hawks are a major threat to aircraft due to their size and tendency to fly at altitudes where aircraft are most vulnerable. However, even hummingbirds endanger our aircraft and pilots. Hummingbirds are ranked as our sixth most hazardous bird species due to the high volume of strikes. Although they do not always damage the aircraft, a hummingbird caused over $15,000 in damage to a T-38 engine in 2010.

In 2002 the 14th Flying Training Wing aircraft struck 123 birds causing over $800,000 in damage. The following year, the 14th FTW hired a certified USDA wildlife biologist to run our Bird/Wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazard program. The BASH program focuses on reducing the attractiveness of the airfield and the surrounding environment to wildlife that threaten our pilots and aircraft. The cumulative effect of all the mitigation efforts, large and small, have brought the strike rate down to an average of 67 strikes per year with an average annual damage cost of less than $80,000.

No comments yet.  
Add a comment

 Inside Columbus AFB

ima cornerSearch

tabLocal Links

Site Map      Contact Us     Questions     Security and Privacy notice     E-publishing  
Suicide Prevention    SAPR   IG   EEO   Accessibility/Section 508   No FEAR Act