What’s New, Wildlife Strike Reporting?

By Scott Spangler on June 12th, 2023

For reasons unexplained, when perusing the FAA website to see what might be new and/or interesting in advisory circular land, discovering a draft AC 150/5200, Reporting Wildlife Aircraft Strikes, triggered my mental recording of Tom Jones singing “What’s New Pussycat?” That was enough for me to click the link and find out.

Jumping right into it on the first of the AC’s 15 pages, Section 4, Background, updates the wildlife strike numbers, reinforcing the reality that colliding with critters continues to be a risk all aviators should not discount. Birds, naturally, continue to be the predominant threat. Terrestrial mammals accounted for about 2% of the strikes, with the unexpected pairing of flying mammals (i.e., bats) and reptiles tallying less than 1%.

Between 1990 and 2021, aircraft collided with 620 bird species, 52 different terrestrial mammals, 44 bat species, and 29 different reptiles. The AC categorizes the birds as waterfowl, gulls, and raptors. Pilots should report every strike with a bird and bats.

The AC subdivides terrestrial mammals into carnivores and something called “artiodactyls.” Never one to let a new and strange word go uninvestigated. (A zoological noun, an artiodactyl is an order of mammals comprised of even-toed ungulates; and an ungulate is a hoofed mammal.) The AC said they were mainly deer, but if you’re looking to hit something different, it must weigh more than 1 pound. Some qualifying ungulates would be pigs, goats, zebras, the families of deer and sheep, gazelles, bison, and hippopotamus. Coyotes led the list of center-punched carnivores.

A change in Section 6, when to report a wildlife strike, tacitly tells me what evidence the FAA has been receiving. It modified bird or other wildlife remains with “non-desiccated” (which is a more professional way of saying “still juicy”) found “within 250 feet of a runway centerline within 1,000 feet of a runway end.”

In explaining how to report a wildlife strike, Section 7, reports the demise of the pre-address paper Form 5200-7 for telling the FAA what you hit. All strike reports must be reported electronically, “except when using the available Form 5200-7 combined with snarge samples sent to the Smithsonian Feather ID Lab.” (Cool new words are one of the things that got my interested in wildlife strikes; snarge is what remains of a bird after it meets an aircraft.)

In Section 8, the FAA has updated its hazard ratings and increased the number of species in a new table, from 50 bird/mammal species to 79. The table (in Appendix A) shows the number of damaging strikes, total strikes, and relative hazard score, and risk estimates for each listed species. The AC also includes Form 5200-7 updated to match the current online form.

Appendix B diagrams how to collect birdstrike evidence, and to make that effort easier, Appendix C now describes how to “Make Your Own Birdstrike Collection Kit,” which should be standard equipment in every airport vehicle. And given Murphy’s Law, if pilots carry such a kit in their flight bag, it reduces the chances that they will need to use it. –Scott Spangler, Editor


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2 Responses to “What’s New, Wildlife Strike Reporting?”

  1. Airdoc Says:

    Thanks for this info Scott. Of course bird and animal strikes is important data. But snarge?? Lol
    But here’s a twist for you. I worked for Alaska Airlines for 21 years most of it in mx control.
    The Hawk inlet is adjacent to the Juneau, Alaska airport. At any one time there are usually about 20-25 bald eagles along the inlet. We had a 737-200 on the northbound departure, at about 1000 ft the Jet surprised an eagle with a freshly caught salmon above and the startled eagle dropped the salmon which then struck just above the center windscreen. We in mx control have mx procedures for bird and animal but nothing for a fish! True story!
    Does the AC cover that 🤔
    Thanks for a great blog.

  2. Scott Spangler Says:

    Yes, the AC addresses all species of wildlife, including reptiles. Snarge is a long-accepted term in the wildlife strike community and it seems to have originated in the military. That’s where I first heard it, in the early 1970s, when I was dutifully shooting photos for a Navy investigator taking seagull samples off the windscreen of an A-6 at NAS Alameda.

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