• Of all the known species involved in birdstrikes on aircraft, Galahs are one of the most common. (Fir0002/Flagstaffotos)
    Of all the known species involved in birdstrikes on aircraft, Galahs are one of the most common. (Fir0002/Flagstaffotos)

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has published a study into aviation birdstrikes that has concluded that incidents are on the rise in Australia.

The report, released this week, shows that in the period 2008-17 over 16,000 birdstrikes were reported to the ATSB, making an average of over four per day. Statistics also show that Brisbane has the highest number of reported birdstrikes for that period, and that the 1921 strikes reported in 2017 is the highest on record.

"Despite being a high frequency occurence, birdstrikes rarely result in aircraft damage or injuries," the ATSB has reported. "Of the 16,626 birdstrikes reported in this period, 99.8% were classified as incidents, whilst 19 (0.1%) were classified as accidents and another five (0.03%) as serious incidents."

Heavy commerical aircraft were involved in birdstrikes more often that any other sector of aviation, with the rate-per-movement figure also higher. The number of incidents where birds were ingested in aircraft turbofan engines is also on the rise, accounting now for one in 10 reported birdstrikes.

The ATSB also found that most of the birds involved in collisions with aircraft can't be identified, with over 6000 occurences involving an unknown species. Of those known, galahs, flying foxes "bats" (most likely also flying foxes) and plovers were involved the most.

Brisbane led the birdstrike ladder for the 2008-17 year, followed by Sydney, Darwin, Cairns and Melbourne rounding out the top five.

"The majority of birdstrikes occur within the confines of an aerodrome, that is, within 5 km from the aerodrome or on the aerodrome.," the ATSB found. "This is because birds and aircraft more commonly share the same airspace while the aircraft is on the runway for take-off and landing, and during the climb and approach phases of flight.

"In addition, even when pilots are not aware of a birdstrike on the ground or in the aerodrome confines, remnants of the bird will often be found and reported by aerodrome staff."

In its Safety Message, the ATSB noted that the frequency of reporting is also increasing, and sounded a warning about what the statistics mean for pilots.

"Australian aviation wildlife strike statistics provide a reminder to everyone involved in the operation of aircraft and aerodromes to be aware of the hazards posed to aircraft by birds and non-flying animals," the ATSB states.

The full report is on the ATSB website.

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