US DOT auditors on 21 March will begin reviewing the FAA's wildlife hazard mitigation programmes at airports due in large part to concerns about an increasing number of bird strikes.

"Data show that the number of wildlife strikes is on the rise, increasing from 1,759 strikes in 1990 to 9,474 in 2009," says DOT assistant inspector general Jeffrey Guzzetti in the 15 March letter to the FAA, adding that the agency has spent $387 million in airport improvement programme (AIP) funds for airports to assess and mitigate the hazards.

fedex bird strike 
 Damage to a FedEx Cessna 208 after a Tundra swan collision on final approach to Sacramento on 18 February 2010

Guzzetti says "public interest remains high" on the topic, accentuated by a Continental airlines Boeing 737-800 that experienced a bird strike to its engine on departure from Washington National airport on 28 February. Pilots declared an emergency and landed at nearby Dulles International airport.

On 8 November 2010, pilots of a Horizon airlines Bombardier Q400 declared an emergency after a bird strike "substantially damaged the aircraft's right wing" on approach to Los Angeles, says Guzzetti.

The audit will investigate the FAA's implementation of its Wildlife Hazard Mitigation Programme, including policies and guidance for monitoring, reporting and mitigating wildlife hazards.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news