Why is the plane most afraid of hitting a bird?

As machines weighing tens of tons and worth millions of dollars, aircraft may have problems facing small birds.

As machines weighing tens of tons and worth millions of dollars, aircraft may have problems facing small birds.

On August 15, the plane of Ural Airlines landed on the cornfield in the outskirts of Moscow after taking off just minutes. Local media call this the "cornfield miracle". A flaming engine fell off, making the aircraft's wheels barely fall down but the fuselage was not broken when it landed.

A321 aircraft departs from Zhukovsky airport in the direction of Moscow-Simferopol (Crimea) carrying 226 passengers and 7 crew members. Just after it took a few seconds, suddenly a flock of birds crashed into the engine of the aircraft, causing it to ignite. The crew decided to shutdown, make an emergency landing without returning to the airport.

Picture 1 of Why is the plane most afraid of hitting a bird?
Ural Airlines plane landed in the cornfield with its stomach after colliding with a flock of birds.(Photo: AP).

This is the rare time the plane has collided with birds causing both engines to fail. The fact that birds collide with planes happens quite often. According to data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), up to 14,661 collisions occurred between aircraft and animals in 2018, equivalent to about 40 incidents per day.

Collisions between aircraft and birds caused accidents in the past two decades, leaving more than 106 dead, totaling $ 1.2 billion in losses. Not only passenger planes, military aircraft also cannot avoid accidents with birds. In early October, the US Navy E-6B Mercury aircraft had a broken engine, losing $ 2 million from a bird crash upon landing.

Why do birds like to live near the airport?

The sky is so vast, and in fact, there is little chance that the bird will collide with the plane at kilometers. Most collisions occur when the aircraft is taking off or landing. The reason is that many birds like to live around the airport area.

Picture 2 of Why is the plane most afraid of hitting a bird?
Accidental bird crashes often occur when the aircraft is taken off or landed.(Photo: Getty).

Although the area around the airport is very noisy, this is an ideal environment for small birds because there are few houses and people around. Large birds of prey do not usually hang around the airport, making it safer here.

Recognizing this, many airports have had to renovate to make the environment less ideal for birds. They have to cut down big trees, cut grass regularly, reduce the number of lakes around the airport. Cherry Capital Airport in Michigan has dogs to chase away birds.

What happens when the plane collides with a bird?

When the accident happened, the most unlucky subjects were the birds.Colliding with a bird usually does not pose a danger to the aircraft, but a collision with the whole herd is different.

"The aircraft is designed to withstand bird collisions. The aircraft was tested against a bird's body from a gun to test the durability of the windshield and other parts. I have collided with many birds." times, and the worst only left a sinking in the fuselage, " pilot Patrick Smith told the Telegraph.

Picture 3 of Why is the plane most afraid of hitting a bird?
A Boeing 737 in Sudan broke its nose because of a collision with a bird when it took off.(Photo: Aviation WG).

When birds get swept into an aircraft's engine, they are immediately torn to pieces. If the bird is too big, the collision may damage the engine.

"Losing an engine does not make the plane drop immediately, because the plane can still operate when an engine fails. However, when a whole flock of birds collided with the engine, or when colliding with large birds like geese Canada, a serious accident may occur, " said Stephen Landells, safety expert of the British Pilots Association (BALPA).

"The birds can bend and break the engine's propellers. The bigger and heavier the birds are, the more serious the consequences will be. With the speed of 250 knots, when colliding with a moderate goose, the aircraft will bearing force equivalent to 22.6 tons.

Small birds, following the flock can also cause accidents. In 1960, the aircraft of Eastearn Airlines crashed in Boston after colliding with a flock of starlings, " Mr. Smith explained.

How do aircraft avoid colliding with birds?

In 2009, Airbus A320 operated by Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger took off from LaGuardia Airport in New York City when it collided with a flock of geese. The collision caused both of the aircraft's engines to fail, and the passenger survived only by Captain Sully flying the plane into the Hudson River.

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The famous accident in 2009, when aircraft from New York collided with birds and landed in the river.The film Sully, released in 2016, takes the script from the accident itself.(Photo: AP).

This famous accident was made into a movie released in 2016. After the accident, the New York City government decided to take steps to reduce the number of birds around the airport. According to the AP, between 2009 and 2017, the city killed nearly 70,000 birds to ensure airport safety.

Reducing the number of birds near the airport is a common measure to limit the number of accidents caused by bird collisions. In addition to biological measures, airports also use technology to chase away birds. Ultrasonic guns, laser lights or fake sounds of birds, predators are methods to help birds not focus on the airport.

"We monitor bird activity 24/7 and record everything. We also have many strategies to ward off birds such as using speakers, removing food sources, controlling the length of grass. and track the bird's direction , " said Joe Audcent, security officer at Heathrow Airport, UK.

"Pilots take many measures to make sure the birds recognize the approaching plane. Most importantly, turn on the lights, control the speed so the birds can avoid the plane," Landells said.

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