FAA Reminds Operators of Rotorcraft Bird Strike Study

FAA Reminds Operators of Rotorcraft Bird Strike Study

May 12, 2023 News by Gary Searing

The FAA recently issued Information for Operators 23005 reiterating a 2016 government/industry rotorcraft bird strike working group study and summarizing its recommendations. For example, helicopter operators should learn about the local bird population and use it to plan and fly routes. “Among the key considerations are seasonal migratory times and concentration patterns within the typical operating area.”

Other recommendations include “reducing airspeed and gaining altitude.” The study found that “77 percent of bird strikes occur at airspeeds greater than 80 knots, particularly at lower altitudes” and “there is a 32 percent decrease of bird strike likelihood for every 1,000 feet gained above 500 feet agl.” Birds fly higher at night, “so an increase in altitude may be needed even more at night than during the day.” A helmet and visor, at least for helicopter crewmembers, should be worn when practical.

Finally, the study recommends “using taxi and/or landing lights in a continuous mode during sunny conditions and at night when practical, and use a 2-Hz pulsed mode during partly cloudy conditions, and/or install lighting systems that provide the equivalent with white incandescent, high-intensity discharge or light emitting diodes.”

Following its 2016 investigation of numerous helicopter bird strikes, the FAA’s working group concluded that little information was provided to operators about bird strike hazards. Consequently, the working group made additional recommendations to reduce the likelihood of an injurious bird strike. Its findings and recommendations were published in December 2017.

by Gordon Gilbert in AIN online