Evolution will not save aircraft from bird hits
India saw a steep incline in bird-hit cases in the first half of 2023. Alas, winged creatures could take almost forever adapting to what humans have wrought. It’s we who must act
Aircraft pilots are wary of bird hits for good reason. The record shows that most of these collisions do little harm, but nobody wants a wind-shield cracked, sensor twisted out of action, jet blade warped, or worse, an engine set on fire by a feathery mishap. Data from India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation, however, shows that we recorded as many as 1,149 bird strikes in the first half of 2023. At 62.3% more than last year’s first six months, this incline is steeper than our growth in the number of flights taking off and landing, which is usually when such accidents occur. The phenomenon itself is common. To tackle the menace, aviation authorities have a dual response. At one end, they run clean-up campaigns around airports, so that avian scavengers have fewer pickings for swoop-ins. At another, they deploy sound-buzz guns and other whizzy tools crafted to fend off winged bipeds that haven’t yet got the 120-year-old memo on our invasion of their airspace with bulky metallic beasts best avoided. One consequence of the weight of aeroplanes is that urban birds might have found that they too can flit across time-zones. The rumble of runways can shake worms out of the ground almost round the clock, which may well have weakened their early-bird incentive. Even if they awaken late, airport grounds have a feast laid out for those ready to wing it there.