April 27, 2009
By Alton K. Marsh
The FAA’s bird-strike database, operated and maintained by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz., is now open to the public and is undergoing changes to make it more user friendly.
It is a database of reports made voluntarily by individual airports, and may not contain all bird-strike incidents, or in some cases may contain no incidents for your airport. It depends on whether the incidents were reported. Now, pilots and the public can look up individual airports. While you’ll see a large number of data query fields, fortunately you don’t have to fill all of them in to receive information.
Embry-Riddle’s Archie Dickey, an associate professor and director of the Aviation Environmental Science program at the Prescott campus, said the database will be more user friendly in a few weeks. Currently, the only way to know the total number of strikes reported is to count them one by one in the database.
So where is the most highly reported area for bird strikes? (This isn’t necessarily the worst area, just the area where airports have sophisticated bird-strike reporting programs.) It’s the East Coast flyway, Dickey said, and includes the states of New York, New Jersey, and Florida. There are other major flyways in the United States. The more advanced bird-strike programs include the identification of species by sending feathers to the Smithsonian Institution Feather Laboratory following an incident.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
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