Friday, January 16, 2009

Miracle on the Hudson, and bird strikes

January 21 update: The New York Times has an interesting photo of a bird strike in 1916.

Warren covers international news on a daily basis, and much of the news is bad, depressing--or both.

So it was beyond uplifting to see Thursday's emergency water landing of a US Airways Airbus in the Hudson River off Manhattan turn from tragedy to triumph, as a calm and skillful pilot prevented catastrophe, ferryboats converged on the scene to help and all 155 lives on board were saved.

First reports (which can often be wrong) say that the crash was caused by a bird strike--or more precisely, a collision with two birds, probably Canada Geese.

It breaks our Birdcouple hearts to know that birds were likely the cause of this near-disaster. But interactions between humans, their machines and wildlife can be dangerous, we know.

Luckily, research is being done to try and minimize the danger from bird strikes on aircraft. One such group is the Bird Strike Committee USA. Its website says that, since 1988, 219 people have been killed and over $600 million in damage has been caused to civil and military aviation as a result of bird strikes.

The committee's website includes a list of significant bird strikes over the years. The first recorded one? Well that would have been on September 7 1905. Here's a quote from the Wright Brothers' diaries:

“Orville … flew 4,751 meters in 4 minutes 45 seconds, four complete circles. Twice passed over fence into Beard's cornfield. Chased flock of birds for two rounds and killed one which fell on top of the upper surface and after a time fell off when swinging a sharp curve.” According to the committee: This was the first reported bird-aircraft strike. Because of the location near Dayton, Ohio and time of year, the bird struck was probably a red-winged blackbird.

The US Air Force, along with the FAA and others, has also developed a Bird Avoidance Model, that combines bird migration, habitat and breeding characteristics along with environmental and other data to reduce the risk of bird collisions with aircraft.

1 comment:

Dawn Fine said...

I sure wish there was something that could be done to prevent such accidents..I will check out that link to see what the bird strike people suggest.
stay warm!