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Study: Bird Strikes Pose Serious Threat To Military Helicopters

Bird strikes pose a serious threat to the safety of military helicopters, according to a first-of-its-kind study by the National Wildlife Research Center. reports lead researcher Dr. Brian Washburn and his team scoured the aviation records of the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Army, and Coast Guard from between 1979 to 2011 to "identify statistical trends in wildlife strikes."

The study, published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin, found:

Wildlife strikes to military rotary-wing aircraft during flight operations within the United States are both costly (averaging US$12,184–$337,281/strike event among the military services) and deadly (2 pilots were killed).

Bird strikes were most common in Florida, New Mexico, and Georgia, and during the months of September, October, and November.

Dr. Washburn said of his groundbreaking research:

"This study is part of the first formal evaluation of the impact of wildlife-rotary wing aircraft collisions to be conducted. Findings from this research are being used by the U.S. Department of Defense to increase the awareness of this issue, mitigate the problem, and increase the safety of pilots and aircrews."