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The incidence of birds flying into aircraft and causing damage is on the rise, and the highest rate of reported bird strike problems can be found at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and Sacramento International Airport in California, according to bird strike figures released today by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The new On-Line National Wildlife Strike Database, which lets users look up summaries and details of strike reports by date, airport, state, operator, aircraft, and/or species of animal, is being made available to the public for the first time, and is maintained by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
According to FAA figures, more than 80,000 airplane-bird strikes were reported in the U.S. from 1990 to 2007, with the total number of wildlife strikes more than quadrupling over that time period. And worldwide, "wildlife strikes have killed more than 219 people and destroyed over 200 aircraft since 1988," FAA reports. What's more, the agency expects "the risk, frequency, and potential severity of wildlife-aircraft collisions to grow over the next decade."
The Associated Press reports that the FAA's release of bird strike numbers was prompted largely by pressure from safety investigators and the public after a U.S. Airways flight's engines were knocked out by bird strikes near New York City, and the aircraft was forced to ditch into the Hudson River -- with all passengers and crew surviving -- in January of this year.
According to Reuters, "The National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates airline and other transportation accidents, told the agency in a letter that a lack of public information 'could hamper efforts to understand the nature and potential effects of wildlife threats to aviation.'"