Anti-bird strike patent could stop air crashes such as the Miracle on the Hudson

Monday, September 5, 2016

Anti-bird strike patent could stop air crashes such as the Miracle on the Hudson

An inventor has submitted a patent for an engine guard to protect planes from bird strikes. A bird strike, particularly of a jet’s engines, could have a catastrophic consequence.

In 2009 a double bird strike involving Canadian geese impacted US Airways Flight 1549, an Airbus A320-214 on take off from La Guardia airport, in New York. A disaster was only averted when the hero pilot, Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger, crash landed in the Hudson River, where all passengers and crew were safely rescued - an event that has been turned into a film with Tom Hanks in the lead role. Now inventor William Boateng wants to ensure an event like this never happens again.

The US inventor has submitted a patent in the United States for an engine guard that would protect jets from bird strikes, but does not interfere with the air intake needs of the aircraft engines. The patent application says: "The present invention is generally directed to airplane engines and, more particularly, to airplane engine guards that provide protection against bird strikes and ingestion. "The ingestion of almost any solid foreign object into the air inlet of a jet engine causes damage to the compressor stages, and possibly to other portions of the engine.This engine damage is immediately manifested by a partial or complete loss of available engine thrust, with consequent impairment of aircraft flying ability. The problem of bird ingestion into jet engines is particularly acute during aircraft take-off, where an aircraft may fly through a flock of birds at precisely the time when maximum available thrust is required for a safe take-off. Since many commercial and private jet-powered aircraft have only two engines, it will be appreciated that a partial loss of power in both engines, or a total loss of power in one engine, occurring during or shortly after take-off can have drastic consequences."

Post-crash investigations have proved that numerous jet aircraft crashes, resulting in loss of life and extensive property damage, are directly attributable to bird ingestion that occurred during or shortly after take-off. According to FAA statistics, there have been over 100,000 wildlife strikes between 1990 and 2008, and the number of strikes has climbed steadily since 1990. In 1990, the industry saw 1,738 bird strikes; in 2007, the number had increased to 7,666. Some of that trend is due to increased air travel, but the frequency of wildlife strikes has tripled.

"Bird strikes, particularly of the jet’s engines, can have catastrophic consequences. On Oct. 4, 1960, Eastern Air Lines Flight 375 was struck by a flock of European starlings during take-off. All four engines were damaged and the aircraft crashed in the Boston harbour. There were 62 fatalities."

The patent said the guards would be made of metal, preferably aluminium that is half an inch thick, but could be as much as an inch thick or even greater, as necessary to have the needed strength and rigidity to absorb forces exceeding well beyond 50,000 foot-pounds impacts. In general, the guards have a general cone shape with a base flange for attaching to the intake side of an airplane engine, and an outer wall made of several sections and various openings and slots for air intake.

By Chris Pyke

Wales Online

10:58, 30 Aug 2016  Updated 08:20, 2 Sep 2016