DAYTON, OHIO – Aircraft are struck every day by birds.  We don’t hear about most of these incidents because planes are built and tested to withstand these impacts.  University of Dayton Research Institute’s Kevin Poorman says it’s a significant problem. 

“There have been over 200 fatalities in the last 20 years due to bird strikes worldwide and there are 5,000 impacts that are reported every year.”

Poorman is a senior research engineer.  In Dayton, he tests the ability of airplanes and engines to withstand bird strikes by firing 4-8 pound birds at aircraft.  They use “freshly killed” birds or a gelatin substitute that has “similar impact properties.”  He uses compressed gas guns to fire the “birds” at hundreds of miles an hour.

Experts now say an increasing population of big birds – along with a shift to commercial aircraft with fewer engines – means a growing risk of midair trouble.