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Air traffic has increased markedly during that same period, growing from 310 million airline passengers in 1980 to a record 749 million in 2007, meaning the skies are more crowded for both birds and Airbuses.
"The risk is real," Curtis says. "Birds are a threat every day." Even so, the fact that birds disabled both engines of US Airways Flight 1549 simultaneously is far from common. "Only on rare occasions do you have them causing a crash this With reporting by Kate Pickert
To further complicate matters, officials must be careful to identify which type of bird is struck in each incident, to help biologists conduct wildlife management programs without violating laws that protect endangered species.
Wildlife mitigation is the official term for avoiding accidents like these, and according to the government's latest report on the topic, it's becoming an increasing concern. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services Program, found that since 1990, the number of bird strikes has quadrupled, from 1,759 in 1990 to a record 7,666 in 2007. Officials cite a number of possible causes for the increase:
A Growing Bird Hazard
There are many remarkable aspects of the emergency landing made by US Airways Flight 1549 the pilot's ability to make a controlled landing a stone's throw from Manhattan in the Hudson River, the speedy response of nearby ferries and tour boats, the fact that no passengers were seriously hurt. But among the surprises was that the incident appeared to be caused not by a terrorist attack or mechanical failure, but by a wayward flock of geese. Canada geese the suspected culprits weigh an average of 10 lb. More than 219 people have been killed worldwide as a result of wildlife collisions since 1988, according to the volunteer organization Bird Strike Committee USA.
While officials use radar and radio collars to track bird populations, habitat destruction and climate change have disrupted migratory patterns. Moreover, the populations of certain species of birds are increasing at rapid rates, thanks to Discount Women Canada Goose Freestyle Vest Light Grey Australia changes in food supply.
It's not just a civilian concern, either. Air Force E 3 Sentry struck a flock of 31 Canada geese during takeoff, causing a fiery crash that killed 24 service members. "goose guys," to scare them away) and lethal control (killing a specific number to reduce populations).
Most commercial airlines are now replacing older three and four engine planes with more efficient double engine aircraft. Because these newer engines are quieter, birds are less likely to detect and avoid them. Worse still, fewer engines mean fewer backups should a plane and a flock of birds cross paths.