At the Melbourne Airport during a pre-flight check on a Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800, engineers stumbled upon a strange sight…
An owl had nested inside one of the engines — and he served as an important reminder as to why airlines do pre-flight checks.
“The cute little guy was found during our pre-flight checks which is a good reminder of why we do them,” Virgin Australia shared. “Our team of engineers rescued it and it was checked out before being safely released back into the wild.”
“Birds and aviation don’t exactly get along, with our giant planes giving any unfortunate birds sharing the skies nearby no chance of surviving an impact.”
“Bird strikes are actually a common occurrence and happen pretty much every day, and while most of the strikes happen without consequence (except to the birds of course), they can result in damage to the aircraft in a small percentage of cases. Sometimes bird strikes can even result in fatal accidents, 229 lives have been lost since 1988 due to planes and birds tangling with each other. Remember the US Airways plane that was heroically landed on the Hudson River in 2009? It was brought down by a double engine failure caused by multiple bird strikes.”
“Although we do love our feathered friends dearly, the further that they are kept away from us while we try to fly, the better for everyone involved!”
According to the FAA, “bird strikes” are defined as a collision between a bird and an aircraft and usually occur during landing about 60 percent of the time while another 37 percent of wildlife strikes happen during take-off and climb.
While bird strikes are so common (happening every single day despite the pilot’s best efforts to not hit the birds) there were 13,688 bird strikes in 2014 alone.
And as they are so common, commercial jets are actually designed to withstand collisions with birds.
“Bird strikes have always been a part of aviation” and “usually cause no more than minor damage,” according to Boeing who creates many of the commercial planes flying the sky.
Much like lightning strikes — bird strikes can seem alarming to passengers but planes are designed to take the hit and continue on its journey.
Most bird strikes are are a “hit-and-run” situation — with the smaller birds usually disappearing into engines while larger birds causing minimal damage to hulls, engines, or plane noses.
Sometimes, the force will crack windshields — leaving bumps and dings on the plane but most pilots and passengers will have no idea they hit a bird until they exit the plane and see a dent.
In a very small percentage of bird strikes — damage does occur and in an even smaller percentage, there is catastrophic damage.
Take for instance the terrifying experience of Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and his 155 passengers on Jan. 15, 2009.
The rare incident happened on the Airbus A320. While flying, it took on an entire flock of Canada geese as it took off from LaGuardia.
And as Canada geese are massive birds, the flock managed to kill both engines.
While planes are designed to work with one engine, when both went out — Sullenberger was forced to take emergency action.
Pilots for this very reason undergo rigorous training to deal with these types of situations.
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