COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Things at John Glenn International Airport have been back to normal since a plane made an emergency landing there Sunday morning. An American Airlines flight from Columbus headed for Arizona had to make an emergency landing after a bird strike and engine fire.
“Bird strikes are not a common occurrence in the aviation industry, but they do happen,” said Brian Strzempkowski, interim director at Ohio State University’s Center for Aviation Studies. “A lot of the times when they occur, they usually don’t make the news. A lot of times, passengers don’t even know about it.”
Strzempkowski said training involving birds starts on day one of flight school.
“The other aspect of these planes is they are more than capable of flying on just one engine; they have two engines up there for redundancy, and this is a perfect example of why,” he said. “There are occasions where a bird will hit just right and it will cause damage, little bit of damage to the engine. Sometimes a fire can occur on the engine. When that happens, the pilots are trained and they go ahead and they run through their checklist and bring the plane back around.”
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) track wildlife strikes. Numbers show so far this year there have been 16 reported incidents at John Glenn International. In 2021, there were more than 15,000 reported incidents across the country, according to the FAA.
“The FAA and the airports, they put a lot of emphasis on how to deter birds from the airport,” Strzempkowski said. “Airports are a magnet for birds, but what the airports do specifically is they plant certain types of trees and bushes and different grasses in there to deter birds from being around these airports like that.”
Sarah McQuaide, a spokesperson for the Columbus Regional Airport Authority (CRAA), sent NBC4 information about wildlife mitigation efforts. They include perimeter fencing, stormwater detention and landscaping protocols.
CRAA also uses several methods of wildlife control including pyrotechnics, propane cannons, scare devices, audible devices, and, when necessary, lethal control of wildlife presenting a safety hazard, McQuide said.
A passenger on Sunday’s flight told NBC4 the pilot told them the plane hit a flock of geese. The FAA said 97% of wildlife strikes involve birds.
It is currently nesting/mating season for geese, which presents an increased level of activity, McQuaide said. She said the team at CRAA has been actively removing geese and preventing nesting from happening on site.