Washington, Jan 17 (ANI): Reports indicate that the number of collisions between birds and aircraft has rapidly increased over the last two decades, despite better technology to combat them.
According to a report in Wired Science, a U.S. Department of Agriculture and Federal Aviation Administration joint report, released in June of 2008, warned that the danger birds pose to both commercial and military airplanes was on the rise.
According to the report, from 1990 to 2007 there were 82,057 bird strikes.
The trends in the collisions are disturbing as well: In 1990, the industry saw 1,738 bird strikes; in 2007, the number had increased to 7,666.
Some of that trend is due to increased air travel, but the number of wildlife strikes has tripled from 0.527 to 1.751 per 10,000 flights.
Those numbers were brought into terrifyingly sharp relief when the US Airways jet appeared to have hit a flock of birds, causing malfunctions which necessitated a splash landing.
"We've all known that it was just a matter of time. You can quantify it," said Barthell Joseph, a co-founder of Joseph Reed, which sells bird-deterrence technologies.
"You can take the number of bird strikes and you can take the trend of bird strikes and you can take the number of commercial flights and it's fairly simple to do the math," Joseph added.
Growing populations of birds and humans in the same areas have put the species on a collision course in the air that's almost always deadly for the birds and severely hazardous, if not fatal, to humans, too.
Human developments and bird-restoration programs have created new ecological niches that some bird species have jumped in to fill.
The rising bird numbers are overwhelming the efforts of airport operations managers to cope with the problem, despite increasingly sophisticated technology to scare the birds away.
Joseph also said that the Federal Aviation Administration wasn't taking the bird strike problem seriously.
A small group of individuals at airports and other organizations, like the U.S. Navy, are studying the situation on their own through the Bird Strike Committee, a group dedicated to "understanding and reducing bird and other wildlife hazards to aircraft."
"Strikes are happening daily but you're not seeing major damaging strikes, which are causing loss of human life or loss of the airplane," said John Ostrom, chair of the Bird Strike Committee and manager of Air Side Operations at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport. (ANI)