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This Is What Happens When Birds Hit An Airliner Head On

Airlines Bird Strikes

This undated handout photo provided by the city of Show Low, Ariz., shows the windshield of this twin-engine Beechcraft C-99 turboprop was heavily splattered with blood and guts after striking a Western Grebe, a two-foot long water bird, at 11,000 feet over eastern Arizona on Nov. 4, 2009. Reports of airplanes hitting birds and other wildlife have soared since a stricken US Airways jet ditched last year in the Hudson River, and the government's tally for the year could reach or even exceed 10,000 for the first time. (AP Photo/City of Show Low, Ariz.)

It may appear that the birds are fragile little things that aren’t capable of doing much damage to these colossal airliners but, don’t be fooled by their size. Even with their diminutive stature, birds are capable of doing massive structural damage or even engine failure that can lead to a disaster. In aviation terminology, such an event is called bird hit, and it is classified as a top risk to the planes safety in the rule book.

Bird hits are very common among the high-speed fighter jets as their high speed prevents them from taking counter-measures in time. But such disasters on the jumbo jets and other commercial slow aircrafts are not so frequent as compared to fighters. Nevertheless, they do occur and may result in great tragedies. So, I am going to present you with some of the famous bird hits and what exactly did they do to these poor machines made of Titanium and Steel.

1. The very first Bird Strike

The pioneering bird strikes were experienced by none other than the Wright brothers. Orville Wright flew 4 Km in the plane and was chasing a flock of birds when he got hit by one of them, and it got lodged at the canopy. No significant damage occurred.

2. Eastern Airlines Crash

In 1960, a Lockheed Electra l-188 flew from Boston with 72 passengers on board. Shortly after take off, it ran into a flock of starlings and experienced damage to all the four engines. The plane crashed and 62 our of 72 people died in the horrific accident.

3. US Airways 1549 Emergency

In the recent years, the most famous case of a commercial airplane’s bird strike is the US Airways flight 1549. The culprit was a flock of geese flying nearby. The plane went into a dive after the turbine failure of both the engines. The skilled pilot, however, was able to make a stable dip into the Hudson River, and all aboard were safely evacuated by the rescue teams.

4. Space Shuttle STS-114

Bird hits aren’t limited to the Jets. A Space Shuttle in 2005 also experienced one. But, due to the low speed at that time, it couldn’t amount to much and the spacecraft continued without mishap.

5. Turkish Airlines Boeing 738

This one happened only two days ago. The Turkish plane was struck by a flock of birds as it descended towards the Cappadocia airport. The nose experienced substantial structural damage as shown in the snap below.

So, bird strikes are real dangers for aircraft safety. This potential hazard has invited aviation companies to look into the matter from an early age and provide possible solutions. There are many systems available now; that give a second or two warning of incoming birds, and an alert pilot can take evasive action if required.