On the morning of November 14, 2017, a Miami-bound flight from Mexico City was met with an unexpected splat. On its descent into Miami International Airport, an unfortunate bird of prey had a head-on collision with the plane’s nose (video below).
Luckily, the plane landed safely and there were no reported injuries, except one bird who died on impact. But should jet-setters be worried by stray birds?
Bird strikes to aircraft are uncommon and rarely dangerous, typically resulting in little more than a small dent. Between 1990 and 2015, there were 166,276 reported collisions with birds in the US. The vast majority of these caused no substantial damage to the planes and were only noticed after landing.
“Normally you might see some feathers and blood but not the entire bird,” said one employee from Miami International Airport.
That said, flocks of larger birds flying into the plane’s engine can cause some real trouble for pilots and their crew. Swarms of flying insects have also been known to wreak havoc on aircrafts’ engines.
“Aircraft are designed and built to withstand bird strikes,” Stephen Landells, flight safety specialist, told The Telegraph.
"Losing one engine is not going to cause an aircraft to crash because they are designed to fly with one engine down,” said Landells. “However, multiple bird strikes – or hitting large birds such as Canada geese – can and have caused serious accidents.”
Just think of the “Miracle on the Hudson,” the true story depicted in the movie Sully of an aircraft making an emergency landing on the River Hudson after an Airbus collided with a flock of Canadian geese. Less fortunate were the people on a flight that crashed in 1995, after its engine sucked up several geese during a takeoff in Alaska, killing all 24 members.
It might sound a little scary, but chance is on your side. Just over 230 people have been killed in the event of an aircraft bird strike. Don’t be fooled if you feel like that’s a lot, that means a bird causes a human death for every 1 billion hours of flying. In fact, you're more likely to be hurt by a falling coconut after you've safely landed in your dream holiday location.