Black hawks downed: Study reveals bird threat to US military helicopters
Rotary-wing aircraft, such as Apache and Chinook helicopters, play vital combat and logistical roles across the U.S. military services, but new research in the Wildlife Society Bulletin reveals how vulnerable these aircraft are to wildlife strikes. Many types of aircraft are vulnerable to strikes, estimated to cost the aviation industry $1.2 billion worldwide per year; however, to date no assessment of strikes to military rotary-wing aircraft has been conducted.
A research team led by Dr. Brian Washburn from the Wildlife Research Center used records from the Army, Navy, U.S. Air force and the Coast Guard to identify statistical trends in wildlife strikes.
2,511 strikes were identified across the services. While strikes were recorded in almost all states, Florida, New Mexico and Georgia had the highest number of incidents with 617, 204 and 192 respectively.
812 of the records included the type of animals involved, with birds accounting for 91%. The species involved in the collisions varied between services which operate across different habitats. Warblers (16.8%), bats (11..5%), and perching birds (12.0%) were the wildlife groups most commonly struck by the air force, whereas gulls (18.2%), seabirds (14.9%), shorebirds (13.4%), and raptors and vultures (12.6%) were most frequently struck by naval aircraft.
Further analysis revealed that strikes were most common between September and November, which accounted for 41.6% of all strikes. In contrast December and February, claimed 10.4%.
Economically, each strike costs the military between $12,184 and $337,281; however, there is also a human cost. Wildlife strikes resulted in eight injuries and two fatalities from eight identified strikes, each of which occurred during flight operations within the United States.
"This study is part of the first formal evaluation of the impact of wildlife-rotary wing aircraft collisions to be conducted," said Dr. Washburn. "Findings from this research are being used by the U.S. Department of Defense to increase the awareness of this issue, mitigate the problem, and increase the safety of pilots and aircrews."
- Bird Strikes Problematic for Military Helicopters, Study Findsfrom Live ScienceTue, 4 Mar 2014, 11:01:00 EST
- Black hawks downed: Bird threat to U. S. military helicopters revealedfrom Science DailyMon, 3 Mar 2014, 11:31:09 EST
- Study reveals bird threat to U.S. military helicoptersfrom PhysorgMon, 3 Mar 2014, 11:01:00 EST
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Learn more about
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- Special issue: Philae results shed light on the nature of comets
- 'Golden jackals' of East Africa are actually 'golden wolves'
- California 'rain debt' equal to average full year of precipitation
- Short wavelength plasmons observed in nanotubes
- Telescopes team up to find distant Uranus-sized planet through microlensing
- Scripps researchers map out trajectory of April 2015 earthquake in Nepal
- First measurements taken of South Africa's Iron Age magnetic field history
- New study: Consumers don't view GMO labels as negative 'warnings'
- Mobile stroke treatment units may greatly improve survival rates, chance of recovery for ischemic stroke patients
- Study finds non-genetic cancer mechanism
- Seahorse tails could inspire new generation of robots
- Human brain study by UCLA and UK researchers sheds light on how new memories are formed
- Neutrons find 'missing' magnetism of plutonium
- Autonomous taxis would deliver significant environmental and economic benefits
- New cell division mechanism discovered