What Are Bird Strikes? Deaths, Cause, Prevention

On June 19, two emergency landings took place, one in Patna, second one in Delhi. Both the emergency landings were caused by bird-hits. A report published by the DGCA said nearly 1,400 planes are hit by birds every year.

On Sunday (June 19), an IndiGo airline that had taken off from Guwahati had to return back to Guwahati after suffering a bird hit. On the same day, a Delhi-bound SpiceJet also suffered a bird strike leading to one of its engines getting damaged and pilots making an emergency landing back at Patna airport.

What are bird strikes and how can they affect flights?

A bird or any airborne animal (bats) striking a plane refers to bird hit. A bird hit can be dangerous as it can damage the plane’s turbine and can cause fire if the bird gets stuck in the engine. A survey by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) which was conducted in 91 countries revealed that least 34 cases of bird hits are reported across the globe everyday. The annual loss due to bird hit cases amount to over $1 billion. However, 92 per cent cases of bird hits do not cause any major damage, according to the survey.

Official data stated that 1,453 suspected and confirmed wildlife strike incidents were reported in 2021, according to a report by The Indian Express. A similar data published by DGCA about animal strikes revealed that 15 cases were reported in 2020 and 29 cases were seen in 2021, a rise of 93.33 per cent.

How to spot signs of bird hits during flight

According to Boeing.com, following are the signs of bird strikes that passengers can look for while onboard a flight:

  • Birds seen in close proximity to the airplane or colliding with the airplane, birds on windshield or a cracked windshield
  • Vibration of airframe or engine
  • Noise of strike or noise attributed to resulting damage such as the engine surging.
  • Smoke or Odour should also make you cautious

Measures taken to prevent bird hits

  • Repel the birds: Many airports use sounds as a way of distracting birds such as by using screamers and loudspeakers. Singapore Airport uses gun shots and loudspeakers producing 20 different types of sounds to avoid birds from the path of the plane.
  • Modify birds’ habitat: By removing the source of food for birds from near the airports, flocks of birds can be avoided from the path of airplanes.
  • Laser Guns: Laser guns produce light and sound that distracts birds from the path of the plane. Surat Airport uses these guns.
  • Shooters: Many airports in the world also appoint shooters to shoot and kill the birds. Lahore Airport appointed 12 bird shooters in 2020 to kill the birds.


The first-ever reported bird strike happened on September 7, 1905, as recorded by Orville Wright in his diary. He was flying over a corn field when his aircraft hit a bird near Dayton, Ohio in USA. The first reported mammal strike occurred on 25 July 1909, when a farm dog ran into the spinning propeller of the aircraft of the first flight across the English Channel from France.