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Wildlife Hazards to Aircraft

photo of crows in trees near airport   photo of control tower at airport

Development of Management Strategies to Reduce Wildlife Hazards to Aircraft

Research Project

Aircraft collisions with birds and other wildlife (wildlife strikes) pose a substantial safety and financial threat to civil and military aviation worldwide. The estimated cost (direct and indirect expenses) to civil aviation worldwide is more than $1.2 billion annually. In the United States alone, 89,727 wildlife strikes (97.4% involving birds) were reported to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA; 1990-2008) and represent a maximum of U.S. $603.7 million annually in direct and indirect losses. 

Wildlife strikes with aircraft are increasing in the United States and elsewhere. The number of wildlife strikes reported per year to the FAA increased steadily from 1,759 in 1990 to 7,516 in 2008. Expanding wildlife populations, increases in number of aircraft movements, and a trend toward faster and quieter aircraft all have contributed to the observed increase in wildlife strikes. Concomitant with the increase in wildlife strikes has been greater emphasis on wildlife strike hazard research and airfield management. Our understanding of the causes of wildlife strikes with aircraft has improved, both in the airport environment and at higher altitudes.

Current approaches to reducing wildlife strikes with aircraft primarily fall under one or more of four research areas: 1) habitat management, 2) wildlife dispersal, removal, and exclusion, 3) detection/prediction of wildlife movements and behaviors so that aircraft can avoid high-risk activities, both temporally and spatially, and 4) manipulating visual stimuli (e.g., aircraft landing lights) to enhance the detection and avoidance of aircraft by birds. A great deal of progress has been made in each of these areas in recent years, although key questions remain.

Project Leader: Dr. Travis L. DeVault , (Travis.L.DeVault@aphis.usda.gov)
Ohio Field Station
6100 Columbus Ave.
Sandusky, OH 44870
(419) 625-0242

Downloadable factsheet on this research project 

Project Homepage
Project Goal and Objectives
Sandusky, OH, Field Station
Wildlife Services' Assistance at Airports
Strike One--You're Out (printable brochure) 500K

More on Project staff:

Travis L. DeVault, Research Wildlife Biologist, Field Station Project Leader
Bradley F. Blackwell, Research Wildlife Biologist
Brian E. Washburn, Research Biologist
Thomas W. Seamans, Wildlife Biologist



Additional Information