Recommendations for upgrading helicopter bird strike protection rules have been assigned as a new task for the FAA/Industry Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC). Present bird protection regulations apply only to transport-category rotorcraft and have not been updated since being adopted in 1966. The FAA says current data shows an increase in bird population and weight that has resulted in an increase in serious bird strikes with both normal- and transport-category rotorcraft.
As of last year, normal-category rotorcraft accounted for more than 90 percent of helicopters operating in the U.S., and statistics from the FAA’s Wildlife Strike Database indicate about 75 percent of reported helicopter-related bird strikes from 1990 to 2013 occurred in this category. In terms of helicopter flight hours, reported bird strikes increased 49 percent in the five-year period from 2010 to 2014.
“Direct bird impact to the pilot has led to partial or complete pilot incapacitation in numerous cases, increasing the risk of fatalities,” the FAA said. The agency is seeking members for the new ARAC Rotorcraft Bird Strike Working Group.
by Gordon Gilbert