In separate incidents, a Patna-Delhi SpiceJet flight and a Guwahati-Delhi bound IndiGo aircraft both had to return to their airports of origin after birds hit the planes on Sunday last week. 

While the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has ordered a probe into the matter, it’s important to understand why such incidents can often have repercussions for both passengers and aircraft.

Also Read: Who is Monica Khanna, the Patna-Delhi SpiceJet pilot who saved many lives?

Bird Strike

A “Wildlife strike” is what the DGCA calls an incident which has disrupted a flight either by a bird hit or an animal on the runway during takeoff or landing. Bird strikes come under this banner. 

While bird strikes number amongst the most common incidents to occur to aircraft, the danger they pose can often vary. For example, the infamous Hudson River landing by US Airways flight 1459 in 2009. The plane’s engines were hit by a flock of birds, which in turn caused them to stop functioning. The pilot, Chelsey Sullenberger, ended up manoeuvring an emergency landing on to the Hudson River. The incident became so famous that the film, “Sully,” was based on it.

Also Read: Watch| Delhi-bound SpiceJet flight lands safely in Patna, smoke visible

Why They Happen

According to a 2014 survey conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, an airport’s proximity to water, nearby trees and shrubs are some reasons why birds flock to airports. Landfills and waste disposal sites have a likelihood to increase the number of birds in the vicinity of an airport. The report further mentioned that airports which are closer to the coast report a higher number of incidents as compared to those inland. 

Also Read: How SpiceJet pilots averted a tragedy after a bird strike

The annual reports from the DGCA show that between 2014 and 2022, Wildlife strike incidents have been on the rise. This year has seen the highest number of incidents, numbering at 1495. The lowest number of incidents occurred in the 2015-2016 period, where 643 such incidents were reported.