An Overview of the Bird
Hazard Threat to Aircraft

  • History: First fatal accident in 1912 involved a military aircraft. Since 1975, commercial jet transports have been involved in five hull losses. Large military aircraft have been involved in at least four other hull losses in the same period.

  • Location: Strike hazards exist throughout the world with higher threats near migration routes or favorable environments.

  • Altitude: More than half at less than 100 feet (30 meters) above the ground, highest reported strike at 37,000 feet (11,280 meters), highest reported bird sighting at 54,000 feet (16,460 meters)

  • Number of Strikes: According to statistics from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), there were over 25,000 bird strikes reported to civil aircraft between 1988 and 1992. Over 70% of these were strikes on large jet aircraft weighing over 60,000 pounds (27,200 kilos).

  • Strike Rates: The Civil Aviation Administration (CAA) of the United Kingdom estimates that UK registered aircraft of over 12,500 pounds (5,700 kilos) strike a bird about once every thousand flights.

  • Species: Species of interest depends on area, in the U.S. and Canada gulls, ducks, and geese are frequently involved in serious bird strikes.

  • Size: Birds can weigh in excess of 40 pounds (18 kilos), but most North American bird strikes involve birds weighing 4 pounds (1.8 kilos) or less.

  • Flock Size: Bird encounters can involve over 100 birds at a time.

  • Damage Rates: According to CAA and ICAO data, about 6 to 7% of all bird strikes result in aircraft damage.

  • Airports:While any airport may have bird strikes, airports adjacent to wetlands or wildlife preserves are at higher risk of having a significant bird strike hazard.

Bird Strikes
Main bird page
Threat overview
Significant strikes
Risk estimate

Overview of the Bird Hazard Threat to Aircraft -- Revised 10 November 2015