Extreme Altitude Bird Strike Prompts Action

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The Indian air force has slanted to a more ornithologically conscious approach to flight planning following a bird strike involving one of its aircraft and reported in the flight levels. A huge four-engine IAF IL-76 transport was flying at more than 22,000 feet when it struck a yet-unidentified bird. The aircraft landed safely, but the IAF is now involved with genetics labs to secure DNA testing for tissue samples recovered from the aircraft. The idea, aside from determining what species of bird hit what aircraft, is to develop a better understanding of those kinds of threats based on seasonal migration patterns along with likely conflict altitudes and locations. While more than 70 percent of the nearly 80,000 bird strikes reported in the U.S. from 1990-2007 occurred below 500 feet AGL, about 2,000 occurred above 5,000 feet. One was reported at more than 30,000 feet AGL.

Records that identify bird strikes and bird species indicate that a Ruppell's Vulture was once struck at an altitude of 37,000 feet. More than 31,000 of the 79,972 strikes reported from 1990 to 2007 occurred in August, September and October, with each month collecting more than 10,000 reports.