Investigation: Bird strikes on the rise

April 20, 2012 3:11:46 PM PDT
An Eyewitness News investigation found the risk of bird strikes has actually increased in the area three years after the US Airways plane was forced to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River.

Eyewitness News wanted to ask the Port Authority some questions about this, but never heard back from them.

Perhaps it could be because their efforts to reduce bird strikes are failing at an alarming rate.

There was high anxiety for passengers and crew of Delta Flight 1063 when a flock of birds got sucked into the plane's engine taking off at JFK.

Pilot: "Delta 1063 has had an engine failure on the right engine declaring an emergency due to a bird strike."

A check of the FAA data base reveals that bird-strikes are occurring at an alarming rate at JFK and LaGuardia.

This despite promises by the Port Authority to manage bird populations following the near disastrous bird encounter in 2008, better known as Captain Sully's "Miracle on the Hudson".

That plane took off from LaGuardia.

Data shows since then, bird strikes at LaGuardia are up 28% from 107 bird strikes in 2008 to 137 last year.

It's even worse for JFK, where bird strikes have shot up from 167 in 2009 to 256 last year, a 53% increase.

"80%, up, up, up, up! That's failure," said Steven Garber, the former head of Wildlife Management.

A former head of Wildlife Management for the airports says The Port Authority and Federal Government are courting disaster.

"Port Authority and JFK and Department of Agriculture all promised they'd take care of the problem and they didn't, they didn't, year after year, after year goes by," Garber said.

Since Flight 1549, The Port Authority has hired a second wildlife biologist and it continues rounding up and removal of Canada geese, but the bird strikes keep going up.

In one day last year, four bird strikes occurred at JFK.

The increasing number of strikes is worrisome because more and more airlines use smaller, two-engine jets.

"Because the possibility of knocking both engines out is not remote, Sully is a perfect example. Three engine airplane the odds go way down. The Port Authorities have to do something to try and minimize the possibility of bird strikes," said Robert Ober, a retired airline pilot.


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