Daily Mail claim of sharp rise in birdstrikes not borne out by the facts from CAA

 The CAA produces data on reported birdstrikes, and on confirmed strikes – the latter being a much lower number than the former. For instance, in 2012 there were 2215 reported birdstrikes, and 1404 confirmed strikes. Some of the increase in reporting may be due to changed reporting requirements of incidents to the CAA. The species hit most often in recent years have been various species of gulls (together the largest group), then swallows, skylarks, swifts and woodpigeons, then pigeons and kestrels. The number of birdstrikes rose significantly after 2008, when the CAA introduced a new system through which all strikes can easily be reported online. It has been mandatory for all strikes to be reported since 2004.

CAA data on number of reported birdstrikes (not confirmed strikes) – at link 

2004   1481 birdstrikes  (2,176,000 Air Transport Movements in UK  (CAA data)

2005   1650  birdstrikes (2,301,000 ATMs)

2006   1780  birdstrikes  (2,344,000 ATMs)

2007   1299  birdstrikes  (2,379,000 ATMs)

2008   1480  birdstrikes  (2,327,000 ATMs at  UK airports)

2009   1823  birdstrikes  [1278 strikes confirmed] (2,002,000 ATMs)

2010   2258  birdstrikes  [1436 strikes confirmed]  (2,124,000  ATMs

2011   2457  birdstrikes [1529 strikes confirmed]  (2,046,000 ATMs)

2012   2215  birdstrikes  [1404 strikes confirmed] (2,015,000 ATMs)


which is an increase of 10% in confirmed strikes between 2009 and 2012.

In 2010 the CAA said:

“The CAA believes the apparent increase in the number of strikes reported during Q3 of 2009 to be due to a number of causal factors, such as the increase in awareness of reporting birdstrikes following CAA publicity and improved guidance to stakeholders, and also in part due to localised seasonal meteorological conditions affecting the number of strikes to the Hirundine (Swallows & Martins) and Apodidae (Swifts) family of birds. Further details available upon request to birdstrikes@caa.co.uk


caa birdstrikes 2011 - 2013

Looking at the species that are most often involved in birdstrikes:


the numbers hit most often in 2011 were various species of gulls (together the largest group), then swallows, skylarks, swifts and woodpigeons, then pigeons and kestrels.



In contrast to the Daily Mail story:

“Number of birds hitting planes doubles to 2,200 in three years: Strikes have caused engine fires and emergency landings, says air safety watchdog”   (no !)

  • Civil Aviation Authority figures show three ‘significant’ collisions in UK each week
  • Report details 315 ‘bird strike incidents’ in 2011 and 2012
  • Serious cases have caused engines to catch fire

 22 August 2013 (Daily Mail)

The number of birds colliding with planes has nearly doubled over the past few years, according to an air safety watchdog.

More than 2,200 reports such  incidents were recorded last year by the Civil Aviation Authority – almost twice the 1,299 ‘bird strikes’ that were recorded  in 2007.

The figures show that around three ‘significant’ collisions take place in Britain every week.

The most serious incidents saw pilots put out mayday messages as their engines failed.

Other scares have seen planes dumping fuel to make emergency landings and cases where engines caught fire and fumes started to enter the cabin.

The CAA report details 315 so-called ‘bird strike incidents’ in 2011 and 2012 that damaged the aircraft or created a flight safety hazard.

One flying out of Luton which was hit by a flock of birds shortly after take off, forcing the pilot to shut off an engine.

Another saw an Airbus A320 having to return to Heathrow shortly after being hit by a bird.

And a passenger jet pilot declared an emergency after colliding with greenfinches as he was coming in to land at Gatwick.

A CAA spokesman explained that pilots are now obliged to log every accident involving birds.

‘If a bird strike has been submitted, which has either caused damage to the aircraft or the bird strike has resulted in a flight safety hazard, then this would be reportable,’ he said.

The most dangerous bird strike incident in recent years took place in New York when a US Airways Airbus A320 was forced to land in the Hudson River after being hit by a large flock of birds.




The CAA data on birdstrikes is at:

Mandatory Reporting of Birdstrikes in the UK

The CAA has launched a campaign to emphasise the importance of obtaining identification of bird species following a birdstrike occurrence:

CAA Press Release: CAA calls for improved bird identification following birdstrikes
Birdstrike campaign poster

Mandatory Reporting of Birdstrikes in the UK came into force on 16 December 2003. Read the CAA News Releasehere.

Article 227 of the Air Navigation Order refers to the mandatory requirement to report birdstrikes in the UK.

The following CAA document provides information on the increasing threat of large flocking birds: Large Flocking Birds – An International Conflict Between Conservation and Air Safety.

Should you have any questions regarding birdstrike issues, please email us via birdstrikes@caa.co.uk.

Online Birdstrike Reporting System

Following successful trials involving several UK licensed aerodromes, online reporting for Birdstrike Occurrencewas introduced on 1 January 2008.

Further details can be found on the CAA News Release: CAA Introduces Online Birdstrike Reporting System

Please Note: Online reporting is the preferred method for reporting birdstrike occurrences to the CAA. However, form SRG 2004 (formerly CA 1282) will still be available for a further period of time. Reportees are reminded that form SRG 2004 cannot be completed or submitted online, but should be either faxed to the number notified on the form, or posted using the Freepost address.

UK Birdstrike Data

The CAA’s view is that the volume of birdstrikes reported at a particular airport or aerodrome does not imply greater hazard. Due to the limitations of unanalysed raw data, users should exercise extreme caution in forming any conclusion or opinion based on quantitative data alone.

The CAA disclaims all responsibility for any interpretation which might be made by others in receipt of this birdstrike data.

The CAA intends to publish and review relevant data within certain time scales, as listed below.


Quarter 1January-MarchBy end JuneDecember
Quarter 2April-JuneBy end SeptemberDecember
Quarter 3July-SeptemberBy end DecemberJune
Quarter 4October-DecemberBy end MarchJune


Monthly Total Birdstrikes

Statistics for 1990-1994
Statistics for 1995-1999
Statistics for 2000-2003
Statistics for 2004-2009 
Statistics for 2008-2010
Statistics for 2009-2011 
Statistics for 2010-2012
Statistics for 2011-2013
Quarterly Confirmed Birdstrikes Statistics for 2009-2011
Quarterly Confirmed Birdstrikes Statistics for 2010-2012 
Quarterly Confirmed Birdstrikes Statistics for 2011-2013

Statistics for 2008 – Top Ten Species (Total)
Statistics for 2009 – Top Ten Species (Total)
Statistics for 2010 – Top Ten Species (Total)
Statistics for 2011 – Top Ten Species (Total) 
Statistics for 2012 – Top Ten Species (Total)
Statistics for 2009 – Top Species (by month)
Statistics for 2010 – Top Species (by month)
Statistics for 2010 – Unknown Species against Total Number of Birdstrikes by Month
Statistics for 2011 – Top Species (by quarter)
Statistics for 2012 – Top Species (by quarter) 
Statistics for 2013 – Top Species (by quarter)





2nd January 2008

CAA Introduces Online Birdstrike Reporting System

Birdstrike reporting has become easier since 1 January 2008, when the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) introduced a new online reporting system for the aviation community. The preferred method of reporting an event of a bird striking a plane is now by completing a form on the CAA’s website.

To date, aerodromes, aircraft operators and private pilots have filed birdstrike reports by completing the CA1282 Birdstrike Occurrence Form, which is faxed or posted. The online reporting form is now available at: http://www.caa.co.uk/birdstrikereporting

Birdstrike reporting became mandatory in 2004. A birdstrike report must be submitted to the CAA unless the strike has already been reported as an accident or damage occurrence through the CAA’s Mandatory Occurrence Reporting (MOR) scheme. Since reporting was made mandatory, there has been a 67 per cent increase in the number of reports received and 1,780 reports were received in 2006. However the number of birdstrikes classified as ‘serious’ has remained unchanged, averaging 57 per annum. Modern aircraft engines are designed to be resistant to multiple strikes by birds of up to 5.5lbs in weight.

This new online reporting procedure will provide a more efficient way of managing the data received. The maintenance of an accurate and comprehensive birdstrike database enables the CAA to provide information and advice to aerodrome licensees that can assist them in their habitat management and bird dispersal techniques.

The CAA conducted a trial at nine UK airports (see Notes to Editors) between August 2006 and October 2007, when reporters were asked to complete and submit an online version of the CA1282 Birdstrike Occurrence Form. This followed the success of an online reporting scheme used in the USA and Canada.

Nick Yearwood, from the Aerodrome Standards Department at the CAA, believes that the implementation of an automated reporting system will be mutually beneficial to both the CAA and the aviation community. He said: “Prior to birdstrike reporting becoming mandatory, there was a large degree of under reporting. We believe that this automated procedure will make it quicker and easier for pilots and aerodrome officials to file birdstrike reports. This will ensure that we have a more accurate record of birdstrike events that we can share with the industry in order to improve bird control procedures.”





see also

CAA data shows 1529 birdstrikes in 2011, up from 1278 in 2009


The CAA reports that bird strikes are on the increase throughout the UK, with 1529 reported last year – up from 1278 in 2009. For Scotland the CAA has said bird strikes have risen at Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness airports over the past 2 years, with an increase in wild flocks and air traffic blamed.  Bird strikes have been blamed for bringing down huge aircraft in the past, including the incident in 2009 where an Airbus A320 was forced to ditch in the Hudson river in New York. Glasgow Airport reported 8 strikes this year involving large birds, up from the usual annual average of 3. The Herald Scotland (article below) gives information about increases at Scottish airports.



More past news items on aviation and bird strikes at Biodiversity News