Which birds would you think have caused the greatest toll in aviation?
Well, the answer depends on how you measure it …
If you look at the species involved in aircraft crashes that killed people, then starlings are the culprits—starlings were involved in 98 of the 576 deaths attributed to wildlife strike. Tragically, 62 of those deaths were in a single crash in Boston in 1960, when an Eastern Airlines Lockheed Electra crashed into Winthrop Bay. This accident remains the worst aviation disaster known to be caused by birds.
If your measure is the most aircraft destroyed, then gulls are the perpetrators, with 43 of the 656 crashes attributed to them.
And before we rush to blame starlings and gulls, or any other of the myriad bird species, we should remember, it is not the birds’ fault. We are sharing their airspace, and it is us that should be avoiding them—there are strategies pilots and operators can adopt.
For more detail on aviation accidents caused by wildlife, see Avisure’s recently updated Serious accident database, which you can access freely on the Avisure website.