A Russian passenger plane has crash landed in a field in Moscow after being struck by a flock of birds. All 234 passengers and crew on board the plane survived the crash but at least 74 people were injured. The plane struck the gulls shortly after take-off and was forced to land with the engines off and landing gear retracted.
The aircraft was bound for Simferopol in Crimea when it crashed. The aircraft is thought to have been written off.
The pilots on aboard the plane have been dubbed heroes and according to the BBC, will be shortly receiving state awards. State media are referring to the incident as the ‘miracle over Ramensk’.
The incident has already been compared to the 2009, ‘miracle on the Hudson’. Captain Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger landed the US aircraft on the River Hudson after a flock of birds hit the plane shortly after it left New York’s LaGuardia Airport. All passengers and crew survived.
Bird strikes are not uncommon but according to the British Airline Pilots Association they rarely cause significant damage. Pilots are trained to deal with bird strikes and all aircraft are built to withstand the impacts. So, should passengers be worried?
Small bird strikes regularly go unnoticed and it is not until the plane is inspected upon landing that the pilot realises they’ve hit a bird. Larger birds or flocks are more of an issue and have been known to cause significant damage.
The biggest risk is birds getting caught in the plane’s engines. This is most likely to happen when flying at low levels – during landing and take-off. Usually the bird disintegrates but they have been known to cause damage the engine. Damage to one engine doesn’t mean the plane will crash as they are able to fly with just one working engine. However, larger birds or multiple strikes can cause accidents and the pilot may be forced to crash land the plane.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority, the number of confirmed bird strikes in the UK has risen from 1380 in 2012 to 1835 in 2016. However only 4.7% of bird strikes caused reported damage between 2012 to 2016.
Considering the record number of flights coming into and leaving the UK has reached in excess of 8,500 in one day, the number of bird strikes a year is minimal.