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Bird strikes ground planes

February 29, 2012, 12:52 pm

A Frontier Airlines flight on its way to Denver, Colorado, had to make an emergency landing in St. Louis after colliding with a bird in mid-flight.

The Frontier flight 297 left Lambert-St. Louis International Airport for a two-hour flight to Denver. Just a few minutes after take off, the plane hit a bird and was told to land. The plane was able to land safely at Lambert, and passengers had to exit the aircraft and board another Frontier plane to continue to their travels. The plane for flight 297 suffered damage from the encounter with the bird, and was unable to continue the flight, The Associated Press reported.

Apparently, wildlife strikes are not uncommon occurrences during routine flights, with the federal wildlife strike database showing the St. Louis incident was the fourth in 2012 at the facility. The Federal Aviation Administration said 23 people have been killed and 209 injured across the United States since 1990 as a result of wildlife strikes on a plane, The Associated reported.

St. Louis Today, no one was injured during the wildlife strike, but a passenger onboard posted on Facebook that they heard a loud bang and saw sparks out the window just six minutes after takeoff.

In 2011, a private plane incurred $40,000 worth of damage after hitting ducks as they approached an airport. In July 2009, an American Airlines MD-83 hit a red-tailed hawk on its way to Los Angeles, resulting in $363,500 in damages, the source reported.

In the past five years, Lambert reported 276 wildlife strike incidents, four of which resulted in severe damages to planes. The four recent wildlife strikes at Lambert have involved several types of birds of different sizes including swallows, hawks, doves, blackbirds and geese. No passenger deaths have been reported at Lambert due to a wildlife strike, the source reported.

The FAA wildlife strike database contains records of voluntarily reported wildlife strikes dating back to 1990. The information in the database contains what has been reported, thus many wildlife strikes likely occur without being reported. Between 1990 and 2010, the FAA wildlife strike database recorded more than 121,000 strikes. In addition, 92 percent of bird strikes to commercial planes occur below 3,500 feet above ground level. In 2010, 52 percent of birds struck were able to be identified, and between 2006 and 2010 there was an average of 26 strikes reported daily.

Thus, pilot insurance can help protect against damage incurred from wildlife strikes.

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