Animals

Are bird strikes set to increase?

On the 17th of September university student Tiffany Verga boarded a plane in Perth that was going to Melbourne. Not long after, something unusual happened.

“When the plane took off there was a loud bang and 40 minutes later the captain frantically said over the loudspeaker that we had hit a bird,” she said.

“We all looked at our screens and instead of it saying we were flying to Melbourne it said we were going back to Perth. There was an audible groan and the flight got delayed a few hours.”

When aircraft and animals collide, there’s always disruption but Perth Airport says its prevention activities are having a positive effect, with a downturn in wildlife strikes over the past year.

“Perth Airport has a comprehensive Wildlife Hazard Management Plan that incorporates monitoring, assessment, reporting, and control methods for bird and animal hazards, including netting of waterways and the relocation of some species such as the Nankeen Kestrel,” said an airport spokesperson.

“The National Airports Safeguarding Framework also has guidelines for managing the risk of wildlife strikes in the vicinity of airports to inform state and local governments.

“Perth Airport works with these planning authorities to monitor conflicting land uses or changing waste disposal strategies, such as landfills, that may cause wildlife and birds to pass or roost in the vicinity of the airport.”

Nationally however, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau says bird strikes are on the rise with 2017 having the highest recorded rate of 1921 incidents.

Geoffrey Thomas, editor in chief of AirlineRatings.com says he honestly does not believe that anything can be done to lessen the number of bird strikes.

He says the problem is that there is an increasing number of birds and an also an increasing number of airplanes and flights so naturally there will be an increase in bird strikes.

“It may sound weird but airplanes are the quietest they have ever been,” he said.

“When the birds sit on the runway they sit facing the wind and airplanes are designed to take off and land facing the wind [so] with quiet airplanes, the birds can’t hear the plane until they are on top of it.

“No matter what the individual airports do and they go to a lot of effort to try and stop the bird strikes, essentially birds are birds and are going to fly wherever they want.”