Report: Eight planes hit by birds at the Greater Rochester Int'l Airport in last year

Posted at: 09/25/2013 3:42 PM | Updated at: 09/25/2013 6:18 PM
By: Berkeley Brean |

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One of the biggest concerns airports have is with birds flying into engines or deer running in front of a plane. The most recent reports in Rochester that we found show that it's this time of year when birds are migrating that the problem is the most severe. 

Here is a look at the most recent numbers. From September of last year to today, eight planes in Rochester were hit by some kind of wildlife. The total is up from just two the year before that. 

"Is there any explanation why it went up?" News10NBC's Berkeley Brean asked the airport director. 

"Well, bird strikes are common in aviation," Michael Giardino, Airport Director, said. "It could have been there were more or it could have been that there were more reported."

Click here to find the report and do your own search

The wildlife report from the Federal Aviation Administration shows that four of the bird hits last year happened in a 10 day stretch in October. In one case, the damage was serious. When birds hit airplanes, they can cause serious damage to the body of the plane. (The plane that famously landed on the Hudson River in New York City lost engine power because a flock of birds flew into them.) But ask people flying today if they're worried about birds and you get this reaction. 

"Ha!" Cindi Lewis, a PhD. student at the U of R laughed. "No, I don't think I ever think about it when I travel. I just get on the plane and hope I get there safely."

"No, it never occurred to me until you mentioned it," Tommie Pemberton said to Berkeley as she prepared for a flight with her granddaughter to Arkansas. "I might now."

The Greater Rochester International Airport says it takes the issue seriously, installing higher fences to prevent deer and using occasional fireworks to shoo away birds. But we get video of a large flock of small birds cutting across the southern end of the airfield near the tip of a runway lights to power lines just off the property. 

The airport director says they have a zero tolerance against wildlife. 

"What does that mean zero tolerance?" Berkeley asked the director. 

"Well,  if we see something that causes a risk we immediately act on it," Giardino said. 

When you look deeper into the reports, eight to 10 bird hits a year seems to be the average in Rochester. It's roughly the same in Buffalo and Syracuse. A lot of people flying out of Rochester go through JFK in New York. We counted 80 bird hits there in the last calendar year.  

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