FAA's Bird-Strike Data Released

Following a controversial debate, the FAA released data on bird strikes this month. The call to release the data was driven in large part by the January US Airways incident, in which pilots Chesley Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles ditched their Airbus 320 in New York's Hudson River. The successful water landing came after striking multiple Canada geese and disabling both engines. According to the FAA, there have been five fatalities related to bird strikes since 2000, with 93 injuries and 28 aircraft destroyed. Figures dating back to 1990 list some 89,000 "wildlife" strikes, most involving birds but many resulting from collisions with animals on runways. There is some controversy over the validity of the figures, attributed to inconsistency in reporting. It is estimated overall that only 20 percent of bird strikes are reported. In one positive note, the report indicates that the number of strikes causing major damage has decreased significantly since 2000 when pilots reported 178 such incidents. There were 125 in 2007 and only 85 in the first 11 months of 2008 (final numbers are not yet available).