Twenty Times a Day
April 24, 2009 7:57 PM   Subscribe

...the Department of Transportation will not keep secret the data we collect on birds striking airplanes. - Ray LaHood, United States Secretary of Transportation
From the dreaded mourning dove to the nefarious Canada goose to the humble armadillo, the FAA's recently released National Wildlife Strike Database ON-LINE contains information on aircraft/wildlife strikes from over 100,000 reported incidents between 1990 and 2008.

The database was referenced previously in the Birdstrike in the Hudson thread, but until this week the the F.A.A. provided only aggregate data about wildlife strikes - collisions by state, not by airport. Submit your query here or download the current version(15 MB MS Access format) from this page.

Federal Aviation Administration - Wildlife Hazard Mitigation Home Page.

Wildlife Strikes to Civil Aircraft in the United States 1990 - 2007 - A comprehensive analysis of the database (pdf format).

Sharing the Skies (TP 13549E) is an online book about the subject of aircraft/wildlife strikes from Transport Canada.
posted by shoesfullofdust (11 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I believe the money quote with this bit of news was the comparison to the recent release of the torture memos, from Ray LaHood:
The whole thing about the bird strike issue is it doesn't really comport with the president's idea of transparency," the secretary said. "I mean, here they just released all of these CIA files regarding interrogation, and . . . the optic of us trying to tell people they can't have information about birds flying around airports, I don't think that really quite comports with the policies of the administration.''
Which is from over here but I heard it from the man's mouth on NPR, where it sounded like he was dragging a kid out and making them play outside. Speaks a great deal about how the whole federal ship is being steered in a better direction.
posted by zenon at 8:39 PM on April 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

"armadillo ... aircraft/wildlife strikes"

Whoa - I've known for years that armadillos jump straight up when they're surprised...but high enough to hit an airplane??
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:28 PM on April 24, 2009

Although the thought of airborne armadillos is attractive, I think most of those strikes occur on runways.
posted by exogenous at 10:01 PM on April 24, 2009

It's late but I'm curious to know how it came that Embry-Riddle developed this for the FAA, as reported in the fine print. Guessing that ERAU put a front end on the raw data.
posted by exogenous at 10:04 PM on April 24, 2009

This is just an A-6... much smaller engines than even a 737. Those engines suck in a LOT of air - it ain't hard to get pulled in. Armadillos beware!

Bird strikes are freakishly common, which should console you by realizing that they are by and large survivable occurrences. It's when you hit a flock that things get nasty.

Great post, btw.
posted by matty at 10:12 PM on April 24, 2009

Pictures of Wildlife Damage to Aircraft (includes pictures of badly damaged wildlife - Not Safe for Squeamish).

Some background on Embry-Riddle's involvement in the project: General Aviation Research Airport Wildlife Hazard Mitigation.
posted by shoesfullofdust at 11:14 PM on April 24, 2009

I am going on a plane ride in a few hours. Another showdown with the most pernicious of fowl. Will the geese muster up the self-sacrifice such that a pair of them will be sucked into each of the engines at a critical juncture? This leads to another question: Will it smell like Thanksgiving when I die?
posted by adipocere at 12:59 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wow. Half a million dollars, 83 tons of fuel ending in the ocean, and all for a seagull or two.

Screw wildlife, it dies anyway, but where does all the dumped fuel go? Does kerosene just evaporate off the surface of the water? 83 tons is just one fully loaded plane, and that was certainly not the only occurrence.
posted by Laotic at 2:56 AM on April 25, 2009

They hate us for our freedom. And because we eat them sometimes.
posted by Bokononist at 3:52 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

GOATSUCKERS??? Chupacabra are bringing down planes? Oh my God, there is something on the wing!
posted by JoanArkham at 6:04 AM on April 25, 2009

Screw wildlife, it dies anyway, but where does all the dumped fuel go? Does kerosene just evaporate off the surface of the water? 83 tons is just one fully loaded plane, and that was certainly not the only occurrence.

A typical fuel dumping system employs a series of pumps and valves to eject fuel from the aircraft's wingtips. Other designs place the fuel dumping vents in a plane's tail or aft fuselage. When activated from the cockpit, a fuel dump system often is capable of releasing thousands of pounds of fuel per minute. Most systems are sized to release fuel at a fast enough rate that the plane's total weight is reduced from maximum takeoff weight to maximum certified landing weight in fifteen minutes or less.

Once released, the fuel trails behind the aircraft and creates a pattern that looks much like a contrail. Modern aviation fuel comes in many varieties but all are derivatives of kerosene. Kerosene evaporates rapidly in the atmosphere and very little typically survives in liquid form to reach the Earth's surface. The exact evaporative characteristics of dumped fuel depends on a number of factors like the altitude at which it was released, the atmospheric temperature, and the dumping pressure. Kerosene dumped at high altitude on a warm day tends to evaporate fastest.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sets requirements for when and how fuel dumping may occur in Order 7110.65P, Chapter 9, Section 5. This instruction stipulates that fuel can only be dumped above a minimum altitude of 2,000 ft (610 m), to improve its evaporation, and that a dumping aircraft must be separated from other air traffic by at least 5 miles (8 km). Air traffic controllers are also instructed to direct planes dumping fuel away from populated areas and over large bodies of water as much as possible. The same guidelines apply to military aircraft, and most air bases only permit fuel dumping in a specified area.

From here
posted by atrazine at 12:04 AM on April 26, 2009

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