Aircraft in Hawaii have reportedly struck 3,573 animals – mostly birds, but also a dog and 10 cats – causing damage totalling $1.8 million since 1990.
The bird strikes led to flight cancellations, delays and damage to aircrafts – the costs starting at $25 and ranging up to $1 million when a barn owl was sucked into an engine of a Boeing 757 at the Lihue Airport in 2005, according to Federal Aviation Administration data.
Records from the FAA’s online database show that aircraft at the Lihue Airport hit the most wildlife. Since 1990, there were approximately 1,241 strikes at the Kauai airport, although only two were reported in the last year.
At Honolulu International Airport, 1,029 strikes were reported, followed by Kahului Airport with 469 and Hilo International Airport with 407.
Darett Kanayama, a frontline manager at the FAA’s Honolulu Flight Standards District Office, said that reporting the strikes isn’t mandatory, so the data might not be complete.
“If it’s not of a substantial damage, we don’t hear anything about it,” Kanayama said. “They’ll see what type of damage was done to the airplane, and then they’ll fix it.”
Kanayama said that generally, aircraft hit birds during takeoffs and landings, or other times when a plane is flying at a low altitude. Crews at airports try to scare the birds away to prevent strikes, he added.
“If they see a flock of birds sitting on the runway, they’ll go out with a car or horn to scare them off,” he said.