Langley Flying School students are prohibited from conducting a takeoff or landing when birds are present on the runway. Here are some facts related to bird strikes that are worthy of remembering:
- Since 1912, 200 deaths have resulted from bird strikes on aircraft.
- The greatest risk is in flight below 2,500’ where 99% of all bird strikes occur.
- The faster the aircraft the greater the risk—up to 80-90 KNOTS, birds have time to get out of the way.
- The greatest risk is during March and April, and during September and October, when bird migration occurs.
- If you see birds ahead of you attempt to pass over, rather than under, as birds dive downward when threatened.
- Small birds such as Starlings are highly manoeuvrable and can effectively get out of the way; larger birds such as ducks, geese, or seagulls, present greater risk.1
- Never takeoff or land when large birds are on the runway; instead conduct a low pass in an effort to get them to move on, in the case of landing, or back-track along the runway before taking off.
- Anticipate that a bird striking the windscreen will penetrate; use the instrument panel as a shield, anticipate blood and guts, and remember to fly the aircraft.
- All bird strikes are to be reported; see the RAC Section of the AIM.
1 Remember, that when in close proximity to the ground, very little if any effort should be made to avoid birds—the speed of the aircraft is slow and the birds will manoeuvre to get out of the way. In contrast, birds are ineffective in avoiding aircraft when they take off from the ground to the air, and for this reason a landing or takeoff by an aircraft should never be conducted when there is a risk of contact with birds on the ground.