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«Jukka-Pekka Nikolajeff Trafin tutkimuksia Trafis undersökningsrapporter Trafi Research Reports 7/2014 Trafin tutkimuksia 7-2014 Analysis of the Bird ...»

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tually hit the aircraft was unknown or not marked in 19 (13%) of the cases. (Figures 9.1, 9.2. and 10).

Of the total of 222 bird strikes reported in 2011, only one bird was seen in 105 cases (47%) and one bird hit the aircraft in 141 (64%) of the cases. Two to ten birds were seen in 49 (22%) cases and two to ten birds actually hit the aircraft in 19 (9%) of the cases. A flock of 11 – 100 birds was seen three times, but strikes with large bird flocks could be avoided. The field “How many birds were seen” was left empty in 65 (29%) cases and the field “how many birds hit the A/C” was left empty in 62 (28%) cases (Figures 9.1, 9.2. and 10).

Every year, most of the bird strikes were caused by single birds. The number of strikes correlates with the number of birds seen before the strike. Single birds are causing a large number of strikes because they are often difficult to see before it is too late. Pilots, air traffic controllers and maintenance staff react better if flocks of birds have been seen at the airport or in its vicinity. A small single bird is not perceived as a real threat.

Source: 02.12.2013 / Finnish Transport Safety Agency

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3.10 Time of Year When the Bird Strikes Occurred In the year 2000, out of the total of 172 bird strikes reported, only 2 (1%) happened during winter (December to February), 38 (22%) in spring (March to May), 99 (58%) in summer (June to August) and 33 (19%) in autumn (September to November) (Figure 11).

In the year 2006, out of the total of 145 bird strikes reported, only 3 (2%) happened during winter (December to February), 25 (17%) in spring (March to May), 90 (62%) in summer (June to August) and 27 (19%) in autumn (September to November) (Figure 11).

In the year 2011, out of the total of 222 bird strikes reported, 11 (5%) happened during winter (December to February), 51 (23%) in spring (March to May), 96 (43%) in summer (June to August) and 64 (29%) in autumn (September to November) (Figure 11).

Source: 02.12.2013 / Finnish Transport Safety Agency

As expected, all three years 2000, 2006 and 2011 were fairly similar when comparing the relative frequency of bird strikes in different seasons. Winter is always quiet, as the large airfields are covered by snow and have nothing to offer for the birds.

Spring and summer are different; airfields then become ideal places for many birds for nesting and searching for food. This correlates strongly with the increasing number of bird strikes. In the early summer, some adult birds are flying a lot to find food for their offspring, and later in the summer, young birds are not sufficiently skilled in flying and in looking out for the dangers on the airfield.

The higher number of birds in summer can also be noticed when looking at the numbers of aircraft operations. For example in year 2011, the quietest month at Finnish airports was July with 9,648 landings.

Trafin tutkimuksia 7-2014

3.11 Were Pilots Warned about the Birds?

When looking at the 172 bird strikes reported in 2000, the pilot was warned about birds in the vicinity of the aerodrome in 38 (22%) cases. No warnings were given in 128 (75%) cases and no answer to this question was available in six (3%) of the cases. (Figure 12).

Out of the total of 145 bird strikes reported in 2006, pilots were warned in 30 cases (21%). In 83 (57%) cases, the pilots were not warned at all about possible heavy bird activity. In 32 (22%) reports this question was not answered. (Figure 12).

Out of the total of 222 bird strikes reported in 2011, the pilot was warned about possible bird activity in 54 (24%) cases, a heavy bird activity warning by Automated Terminal Information Service (ATIS) was reported in only 4 (2%) cases and no warnings were given in 103 (46%) cases. In 65 (29%) cases the question was not answered or it was left empty. (Figure 12).

Source: 02.12.2013 / Finnish Transport Safety Agency

3.12 Airports Where the Bird Strikes Occurred How bird strikes reported in the years 2000, 2006 and 2011 were divided between Finnish airports, locations abroad, other places (en route, area, village or town) and cases where the location was not marked is shown in Figure 13.

In the years 2000, 2006 and 2011, bird strikes were reported from 26 different airports in Finland. The Finnish airports and numbers of bird strikes reported there are shown in Figure 14.

In the year 2000, out of the total of 172 bird strikes, 114 (66%) occurred at Finnish airports. 45 (26%) of the strikes took place outside Finland. Only in one case (1%)

Trafin tutkimuksia 7-2014

the location was marked as unknown. In 12 (7%) of the reports, the place of occurrence was en route or the name of an area or village was mentioned.

In the year 2006, out of the total of 145 bird strikes, 82 (57%) happened at Finnish airports. 41 (28%) strikes were reported to have occurred outside Finland. In 17 (12%) reports, the exact place of occurrence was not given, and in 5 cases (3%) the location was marked as en route or a village or town was named.

In the year 2011, out of the total of 222 bird strikes, 128 (58%) were reported from Finnish airports. In 86 (39%) reports, the place of occurrence was marked to be outside Finland. In 5 cases (2%) the location was not marked, and in 3 cases (1%), the place was marked as en route or the name of an area or village was given.

Source: 02.12.2013 / Finnish Transport Safety Agency

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Source: 02.12.2013 / Finnish Transport Safety Agency Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport (EFHK) has been the best-reporting airport in Finland every year. All wildlife activities are monitored at EFHK by Finavia Corporation. The airport area is parcelled out into small lots (Table A1.10), and any movements, observations, dispersals and eliminations of birds and mammals are Trafin tutkimuksia 7-2014 marked down on airport maps. A sample of wildlife management actions in the spring, summer and autumn of 2010 is shown in Tables A1.11 and A1.12.

The EFHK airport area covers a total of 1700 hectares, and it is surrounded by forest and fields. Between the parallel runways 04-22L and 04-22R is a boggy area that provides an ideal environment for many birds and mammals. Also the vicinity of the Baltic Sea brings challenges, as the airport has to tackle with a rapidly growing population of Barnacle Geese (Branta leucopsis).

3.13 Altitudes (QNH) Where the Bird Strikes Occurred In 2000, 41 (24%) out of the total of 172 reported bird strikes happened on the ground. Of the bird strikes in the air, 73 (42%) occurred below 300 feet, 108 (63%) below 1000 feet and 130 (76%) below 3000 feet. Only 8 (5%) bird strikes occurred above 3000 feet, and in 26 (15%) of the cases the altitude was not known or not given. The maximum altitude where bird strikes occurred was 7000 feet, with two reported strikes. The altitudes are shown more precisely case-by-case in Figure 15.

In the year 2006, 47 (32%) out of the total of 145 bird strikes reported took place on the ground. 23 (16%) bird strikes happened below the altitude of 300 feet, 50 (34%) below 1000 feet and 71 (49%) below 3000 feet. In 21 (14%) reports the altitude was

not known or not marked. A few individual bird strikes occurred at higher altitudes:

two at 4000 feet, one at 7000 feet, one at 7500 feet, one at 8000 feet and one at 11000 feet. The bird strike at 11000 feet was marked as having been caused by a large bird and resulted in wing trailing edge damage to an Airbus A320. (Figure 15).

Of the total of 222 bird strikes reported in 2011, 29 (13%) happened on the ground.

Of those that occurred in the air, 75 (34%) took place below the altitude of 300 feet, 110 (49%) below 1000 feet and 147 (66%) below 3000 feet. Nine (4%) of the bird strikes were reported to have happened above 3000 feet altitude, and in 66 (30%) of the reports the altitude was not known or not given. The maximum altitude reported was 5000 feet, where two strikes occurred (Figure 15).

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Source: 02.12.2013 / Finnish Transport Safety Agency 4 Discussion

4.1 Introduction In this chapter the main findings are analysed and compared with other international findings.

4.2 Reporting of Bird Strikes This study shows that the number of bird strike reports in Finland has significantly increased from the year 2000 to the year 2011. At the same time, however, aircraft movements at Finnish airports have decreased. In the year 2000, the number of landings was 225,025, while the corresponding figure for 2011 was 210,230 landings (Table 3). In conclusion, there were altogether 14,795 (7%) less landings but 50 (23%) more bird strike reports in the year 2011 than in 2000. The year 2011 thus showed a clear improvement in bird strike reporting compared to the year 2000.

The years between 2000 and 2011 were all very different. One of the best-reported years was 2001, when the former Finnish Civil Aviation Authority received 187 bird strike reports. In the year 2003, the reporting activity dropped to only 84 reports.

Since the year 2007, the number of bird strike reports has been increasing every year, including the year 2012.

The Finnish Civil Aviation Authority started to use the ECCAIRS (European Coordination Centre for Accident and Incident Reporting Systems) on 1 July 2005. This database shows that the number of all types of occurrence reports has been increasing significantly during the last few years in Finland. At the same time, aircraft

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movements have remained the same or even decreased during the years 2009 and 2010.

In conclusion, the actual number of bird strikes has not increased, but occurrence reporting in general has been growing in frequency. (Figure 16).

Source: 02.12.2013 / Finnish Transport Safety Agency It is good to remember that bird strikes are often under-reported. According to earlier studies, pilots report only 20–25% of bird strikes (Brown and Hickling, 2000).

Therefore it is important to realise that the actual number of bird strikes is much higher than the number of bird strikes reported.

The best way to learn more about bird strikes and develop preventive tools against them is to collect as much data as possible about different aspects related to bird strikes. One of the most efficient ways to do this is trying to create a good reporting culture, which increases the number of bird strike reports received and improves their quality.

One problem is that even if the pilots are willing to report bird strikes, sometimes they simply are not aware of them. Especially if a small bird hits a large aircraft’s wing or fuselage, the pilot may not notice the strike. For this reason, an after flight check is important to detect any blood marks or bird remains left on the aircraft surface. This first check is often carried out by the ramp staff. Unfortunately, small blood marks or remains for example on the wing leading edge are quickly worn out if the aircraft is flying in rainy weather.

A large number of bird strike reports is made by airport maintenance staff after they have found dead birds on runways or in their vicinity. This fact shows that pilots seem to miss quite many strikes. Consequently, pilots should also be encouraged to report near misses and any cases where they suspect that they might have hit a bird.

In fact, a representative of one large Finnish airline told in the Bird Strike CommitTrafin tutkimuksia 7-2014 tee Finland meeting on 25th of September 2012 that they have lowered the reporting threshold and will now report any types of bird strikes, even those that did not cause any damage or that probably were only near misses.

In Finland, bird strike reporting is not a part of the mandatory incident reporting system, but it is strongly recommended by the Finnish Transport Safety Agency. The rules on whether bird strike reporting is voluntary or mandatory vary in different countries. For example, the United States have a voluntary reporting system, but in the Great Britain, bird strike reporting has been mandatory since the year 2004. In fact, on the 1st of January 2008, the CAA UK introduced a new system for reporting bird strikes online (CAA UK, 2008).

The Bird Strike Committee of Finland has a significant role in the prevention of bird strikes in Finland. The aim is to increase reporting activity and share knowledge about birds, bird strikes, good reporting practices, arctic migration and many other issues.

4.3 What Kind of Aircraft is the Most Sensitive to Bird Strikes?

This study proved the assumption that fast moving silent aircraft are the most sensitive to bird strikes. The types of aircraft operating in Finland in the years 2000, 2006 and 2011 are shown in Tables A1.7, A1.8 and A1.9.

During all years studied, 2000, 2006 and 2011, most of the bird strikes occurred to modern turbofan aircraft. The main reason is that new aircraft have quieter engines than the old ones. In addition, birds and other wildlife living in urban areas are so much used to engine noise that they feel comfortable in the vicinity of large airports and are not scared of aircraft (Dolbeer, 2011). Engine noise is an issue people are often complaining about if they live near airports or approach routes. Due to this, airlines want to keep their fleet as modern as possible, because low engine noise is one of the key issues sought after in any kind of power plant.

Aircraft speed is another significant parameter. Low and fast operating military aircraft have a lot higher risk to hit a bird than slower aircraft. It is also good to remember that the velocity of the aircraft can be relatively slow for example during take-off, but the engines are set to maximum power. At that time, a bird strike may cause significant damage to the engine blades.

Bird strikes may obviously happen to any kind of aircraft with any kind of engine.

Nevertheless, a more precise analysis reveals that bird strikes seem to occur rarely at small airports, where take-offs and landings can only be made by helicopters or small reciprocating-engine aircraft. This study includes all bird strikes reported at Finnish airports and involving aircraft registered in Finland. The airports with top five frequencies in bird strike reporting also had frequent operations by turbofanpowered aircraft.

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