The challenge of birdstrikes is almost as old as powered flight itself, but while technology and management measures intended to reduce these incidents have taken great leaps, there are still thousands of occurrences reported each year, as Tom Batchelor investigates
US Airways flight 1549 wasn’t the first to suffer a birdstrike, but it was arguably the highest profile. Iconic images of the downed Airbus A320 floating in the Hudson River off Manhattan made the front pages of newspapers around world and thrust the very real dangers that birdstrikes pose to even the most modern and reliable passenger aircraft into the spotlight.
The January 2009 incident, during which the aircraft struck a flock of Canadian geese shortly after departure from New York’s LaGuardia Airport, was remarkable. All 155 passengers and crew survived with few serious injuries, despite the jet suffering dual engine failure and crash-landing into the freezing river – an astonishing feat of airmanship shown by pilot in command Captain Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger III and his crew.