Bird Strike: How Often Does it Happen and is it Dangerous?

Earlier this year the European Court of Justice (ECJ) decided that a bird strike, a collision between an airplane and a bird, is considered an extraordinary circumstance. As such, airlines do not have to pay out compensation if the plane is then delayed or cancelled. Many claims that we receive here at concern bird strike cases.

According to the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), a collision with a bird is not dangerous at all, unless you’re a bird of course. Aircrafts are typically built in such a manner that if a bird were to hit into an engine, no direct damage would be done. Additionally, pilots are trained to handle such situations. Most of the time, they don’t even realize that they’ve collided with a bird.

A bird strike may sound quite dramatic, but in fact this barely causes any damage. In principle, the power of the engine would shred the bird completely. One simple bird would thus cause little to no harm. A swarm of birds or birds of a larger size on the other hand, can cause more somewhat significant damage by for example denting the blades of the engine. The engine then has to be carefully inspected for potential debris, often resulting into long delays.