Heard about the Bird?
The bird is the word. Ever since Canada geese racked up a score against Sully’s Airbus in the Hudson a lot more attention has been paid to our avian friends. The military has been having bird bashes for years and it’s cost the taxpayers millions in terms of engines, canopies, airframes and occasionally lives. Ditto the civilian world but jets have a bigger issue than those of us who have a high speed rotary bird deflector (prop).
NTSB just published some recommendations on how to deal with birds – not the least of which was reminding flight crews that bird induced power off landings are a possibility even in air carrier jets. Seems like the more things change the more we wind up going back to basics.
There are two areas of interest as we come into flying season: 1) All those flocks of big birds that flew south last fall are now working back north to summer homes and 2) Nesting in parked aircraft. On a recent flight we ran into, almost literally, several flights of Canada geese that were on cardinal IFR altitudes of 3,000 and 4,000 feet. It was good VMC so we could avoid them visually but a collision with one or more of these heavies would have resulted in a lose-lose proposition. They may have been squawking but they sure weren’t talking. ATC did provide an advisory as did several other aircraft on the frequency so bird was definitely top of mind.
For preflights this time of year, be sure to look for bird evidence. That would be straw or droppings and in either case it may be subtle. At a recent safety seminar we heard of a PA28 that had landed with an undiscovered nest atop the engine. In flight there was enough airflow/cooling to prevent combustion but fire erupted as the aircraft taxied in. Apparently, no fire extinguisher was handy on board or at the FBO (Hmmm) and the fire brigade had to be called. It was a very expensive lesson on the importance on bird awareness during preflight.
Here’s the link to ASF website on Bird bash pix and stories. Anybody have an educational bird encounter to share?