Tue, Jul 10, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Birds of a feather stick — to airplane engines

AIRBORNE THREAT:Officials say the proximity of Taoyuan airport to a key migratory bird habitat could be causing the weekly collisions

Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport saw at least one aircraft-bird collision per week last year, the highest rate it has recorded in six years, the Flight Safety Foundation-Taiwan said yesterday.

From 2006 to last year, there were 155 reports of bird strikes at the airport, 64 of which occurred last year.

The number of bird strikes at the airport last year was 2.3 times the number seen in 2010 when 28 cases were recorded, and five times the number in 2006 when there were only 13 cases.

Of the 64 incidents reported last year, seven resulted in aircraft damage, the foundation said.

The foundation said the high number of bird strikes at the airport could be related to its proximity to Taiwan’s west coast, a habitat for migratory birds. In addition, there are many fish ponds and an abandoned military airport runway nearby, which are attractive breeding grounds for birds, the foundation said.

The situation not only poses a serious risk to flight safety, but also leads to an unnecessary increase in operational costs for the aviation industry, the foundation added.

Over the past five years, Taiwan recorded 128 cases of aircraft damage caused by bird strikes, 61.1 percent of which involved the aircraft’s engines.

Also, bird strikes caused 56 incidents in which aircraft were either forced to return to the airport, abandon takeoff or make an emergency landing.

Other problems caused by bird strikes included the temporary closure of runways and the forced cancelation of flights.

According to airline executives, it can cost NT$400,000 (US$13,300) to replace an engine blade and more than NT$10 million to replace an entire engine.

Meanwhile, losses caused by flight delays can reach up to NT$400,000 per hour, while the cost involved in arranging new flights for affected passengers can top NT$100,000 per person, the executives said.

Faster than a speeding plane

‧ From 2006 to last year there were 155 reports of bird strikes at Taoyuan.

‧ Over the past five years, bird strikes have forced 56 aircraft to return to Taoyuan, abandon takeoff or carry out an emergency landing.

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