A Qatar Airways Boeing 777-300 suffered a bird strike while landing in Tunis, Tunisia in April. The aircraft with registration A7-BAP was performing flight number QR3273 from Doha to Tunis when on landing, the flight crew observed a bird hitting the aircraft.
According to the aviation website The Aviation Herald, the incident occurred on April 21 when the nearly nine-year-old jet was landing on runway 29 in Tunis. The aircraft successfully landed and performed a roll-out as the captain informed Tunis tower that they had struck a bird shortly before touching down. According to reports, the carcass of a seagull was later found and removed from the runway.
Following the incident, the Qatar Airways Boeing 777-300 remained on the ground in Tunis for 28 hours before transporting 243 passengers back to Doha.
What is a bird strike?
A bird strike is the term used when a bird or bat collides with an aircraft during flight. Bird strikes are a significant aviation hazard, and while they have been responsible for scary incidents like US Airways Flight 1549 having to land on the Hudson River, they are by and large relatively rare. That said, there are still over 13,000 bird strikes a year reported in the United States. While not necessarily doing much damage to the aircraft, a bird strike is almost always fatal to the animal.
Canada geese are the biggest threat
Of the birds that pose the highest risk to aircraft, the Canada goose is top of the list and is responsible for around 240 collisions with aircraft each year. Weighing as much as 8 kg (18 lb), the Canada goose can cause significant damage to windscreens and aircraft engines.
Annual damage to aircraft due to bird strikes is estimated to be around $400 million in the United States and as much as $1.2 billion globally.
Not surprisingly, 90% of all bird strikes occur in the vicinity of airports and happen when aircraft are either taking off or landing.
How do airports try and prevent bird strikes?
The most popular way airports try and control birds is by using propane-fueled air cannons to scare the birds away. Another thing airports do to deter birds is to alter the landscape so as not to be bird-friendly. Airports achieve this by filling in ponds and replacing grassy areas with gravel.
Some airports have had major issues with birds. Airports like Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) have used pigs to eat seagull eggs in an attempt to reduce the number of birds. Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) in Fort Myers has deployed a Border Collie to chase away birds while some airports like New York JFK use falcons to frighten other birds away. Airports are even planting different types of grass that Canada geese don’t like to eat to keep them away from the runways.
No matter what airports do to try and keep birds away, they will always pose a threat to aircraft and are something pilots must be aware of.