Aviation experts explain dangers of bird strikes
PHILADELPHIA - April 25, 2012 (WPVI) -- Airplane bird strikes seem to be happening a lot lately, and while it is a common occurrence, it is very scary and can be dangerous.
Action News talked with aviation experts to find out if air travelers should be worried about their next flight.
The JetBlue Flight leaving Westchester Airport in New York had just taken off when it collided with birds, forcing the pilot to turn around and make an emergency landing.
That happened less than a week after a Delta Flight out of JFK Airport had to do the same after a bunch of birds got sucked into one of the engines.
Herb Hortman, owner of a flight school at Northeast Philadelphia Airport, says there is a reason why those kinds of incidents are a bit more common in the New York Area.
"New York, Newark, LaGuardia all have large landfills in that areas with a large amount of seagulls," said Herb Horman.
Still, bird strikes can, and do, occur in airports all across the country.
Over the past 22 years, pilots have reported approximately 90,000 bird strikes to the FAA. But that statistic is a bit misleading.
"The majority of the ones that hit the airliners typically hit out on the wing or the nose of the aircraft and usually just bounce off the aircraft," said Hortman.
Even local pilots at Northeast airport say bird strikes are generally not a big concern.
Dan Tillotson has been flying for decades.
"We've only had one strike on the side of the airplane, and it did no damage," said Dan Tillotson.
Airport officials do not underestimate the potential danger. The prime example being the bird strike that downed a US Airlines flight three years ago forcing the pilot to land in the Hudson River.
A spokesperson from Philadelphia International sent a statement saying, in part; PHL has "Airport Operations Personnel trained in hazard mitigation (working) seven days a week, 24 hours a day, patrolling the airfield looking for things like birds and other types of hazards to aircraft."
All things considered, Herb Hortman says travelers should be aware of the issue, but not overly concerned.
"As far as the aircraft coming out of the sky, knocking a wing off or the tail off, that is almost impossible," says Hortman.
philadelphia, air travel, local/state, walter perez
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