Aircraft collisions with wildlife are an increasing safety and economic concern for the U.S. aviation industry because of expanding populations of many wildlife species that are hazardous to aircraft (Dolbeer and Eschenfelder 2002).
In 1995, the FAA, through an interagency agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services Program (USDA/APHIS/WS; WS), initiated a project to obtain more objective estimates of the magnitude and nature of the national aircraft/wildlife collision problem for civil aviation. The FAA/WS effort involves having specialists from WS (1) review and edit all collision reports (FAA Form 5200-7, Birds/Other Wildlife Strike Report) received by the FAA since 1990; (2) enter all edited reports into a database, hereafter referred to as the FAA National Wildlife Strike Database; and (3) assist the FAA with the production of annual reports summarizing the results on a national basis of analyses of data from the database. Such analyses (see Cleary et al. 2006 for the latest report covering 66,392 records from 1990 through 2005) provide a foundation for national policies and guidance regarding integrated research and management efforts to reduce wildlife strikes at FAA Part 139–certificated airports. However, these analyses have provided little information related to general aviation (GA) airports since very few of the submitted reports concern strikes at GA airports. The lack of reports of aircraft/wildlife collisions at GA airports may be attributed to persons at the airport being unfamiliar with the reporting mechanism, believing it is only necessary to report wildlife collisions at airports that have air carrier operations, or having a reluctance to highlight an existing or potential problem at their airport.
GA airports usually have fewer employees than air carrier airports. The vast majority of GA airports have no wildlife hazard mitigation programs in place. The advent of very light jets (VLJs) is expected to cause an increase in the number of aircraft/wildlife collisions since the VLJs are significantly quieter than the piston and turbine powered aircraft that currently operate at these airports. The decrease in engine noise provides less time for the wildlife to recognize the impending collision and take evasive action. VLJs carry less than 10 passengers and are expected to be used by air taxi and corporate operators in flights to and from GA airports.
Managers of GA airports would benefit from a guidebook that could serve as a primer on aircraft/wildlife hazards. Such a guidebook could provide an explanation of the aircraft wildlife collision problem relative to the airport environs, explain why managers should be concerned, contain instructions on how to report a collision, and describe the various measures that can be taken to eliminate or reduce the risk of aircraft/wildlife collisions.
The objective of this research is to develop a guidebook that managers of general aviation (GA) airports can use to identify, understand, and mitigate wildlife hazards to aircraft in the airport environs. This guidebook is intended to provide a primer for addressing wildlife hazards but is not intended to fulfill Part 139 certification requirements regarding wildlife. The guidebook should be accompanied by a brief reference guide and outreach materials for aircraft/wildlife hazards at GA airports.
Status: The Guidebook has been published as ACRP Report 32: Guidebook for Addressing Aircraft/Wildlife Hazards at General Aviation Airports