Wednesday, September 30, 2009

NTSB Releases FAA Recommendations on Bird Strikes

On 29 September 2009, the NTSB published a number of recommendations to the FAA, recommendations that came out of the investigation into the fatal 4 March 2008 bird-strike related crash of a Cessna Citation. Four of these recommendations were directly related to bird strike risks faced by most aircraft operators:

Recommendation A-09-72: Revise the bird-strike certification requirements for 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 25 airplanes so that protection from in-flight impact with birds is consistent across all airframe structures. Consider the most current military and civilian bird-strike database information and trends in bird populations in drafting this revision.

Recommendation A-09-73: Verify that all federally obligated general aviation airports that are located near woodlands, water, wetlands, or other wildlife attractants are complying with the requirements to perform wildlife hazard assessments as specified in Federal Aviation Administration Advisory Circular 150/5200-33B, Hazardous Wildlife Attractants On or Near Airports.

Recommendation A-09-74: Require aircraft manufacturers to develop aircraft-specific guidance information that will assist pilots in devising precautionary aircraft operational strategies for minimizing the severity of aircraft damage sustained during a bird strike, should one occur, when operating in areas of known bird activity. This guidance information can include, but is not limited to, airspeed charts that depict minimum safe airspeeds for various aircraft gross weights, flap configurations, and power settings; and maximum airspeeds, defined as a function of bird masses, that are based on the aircraft's demonstrated bird-strike energy.

Recommendation A-09-75: Require all 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 139 airports and 14 CFR Part 121, Part 135, and Part 91 Subpart K aircraft operators to report all wildlife strikes, including, if possible, species identification, to the Federal Aviation Administration National Wildlife Strike Database.

As with all safety recommendations from the NTSB, they do not have the same effect as a law or a regulation. However, given the very high profile January 2009 bird strike-related ditching of US Airways Flight 1549, it is likely that the FAA's response will be of intense interest to those in the bird and wildlife hazard community and to the general public.

Resources
Details of NTSB Recommendations A-09-72 through -81
Details on 15 January 2009 Crash of US Airways Flight 1549

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