Eight years ago this week, “Sully” Sullenberger landed in the Hudson, and since then, nearly 70,000 birds have been slaughtered to prevent another catastrophic bird strike from happening again. But data show that the problem hasn’t gotten better thanks to the effort – bird strikes have actually gone up.
Nearly 70,000 gulls, geese, starling, doves and other birds have been killed by shooting and trapping since 2009 between the three New York City area airports. During that time, bird strikes have gone from an average of 158 strikes per year to 299 per year. It isn’t clear whether that increase is simply due to better tracking or if more planes are being hit.
What seems clear is that the current program isn’t the best way to handle the situation. Better radar systems could help detect problems before they occur. Researchers also note that though the number of reported bird strikes have gone up, there is a lot of chance involved in whether or not a plane is damaged, and the number of planes damaged by birds is fairly rare.