St. John's airport in Canada's top 10 for bird strikes

Aviation

Rob Antle rantle@thetelegram.com
Published on January 22, 2009
An Air Canada passenger jet takes off from St. John's International Airport recently, laden with people bound for a number of Christmas destinations. - File photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

On Aug. 18, 2007, Air Canada flight 697 prepared for takeoff from Runway 29 at St. John's International Airport.

But the Embraer jet, bound for Toronto, aborted takeoff after striking a bird.

There was no damage to the aircraft and no need for an investigation by the Transportation Safety Board, according to records in the Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System, or CADORS, maintained by Transport Canada.

The case of Flight 697 was just one of dozens of incidents reported over the past number of years involving aircraft striking birds near St. John's International Airport.

On Aug. 18, 2007, Air Canada flight 697 prepared for takeoff from Runway 29 at St. John's International Airport.

But the Embraer jet, bound for Toronto, aborted takeoff after striking a bird.

There was no damage to the aircraft and no need for an investigation by the Transportation Safety Board, according to records in the Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System, or CADORS, maintained by Transport Canada.

The case of Flight 697 was just one of dozens of incidents reported over the past number of years involving aircraft striking birds near St. John's International Airport.

Transport Canada statistics show 17 bird strikes at St. John's airport in 2007, for a strike rate of 4.28 per 10,000 aircraft movements. That rate ranks the city airport second worst of the top 20 airports in the country, behind only Edmonton.

In 2006, 12 bird strikes resulted in a strike rate of 2.77 and a ninth-place ranking.

More detailed incident reports are found in CADORS, although Transport Canada cautions that system contains preliminary, unconfirmed data which can be subject to change.

Among the St. John's incidents listed in CADORS:

Two bird strikes within a span of roughly 24 hours. The first, on Sept. 13, 2008, saw an Air Canada Embraer report a strike during departure from Runway 29. The second, on Sept. 14, 2008, involved a Provincial Airlines de Havilland turbo-prop reporting a possible strike while taking off for Deer Lake, also from Runway 29.

An Exploits Valley Air Services flight reported striking a seagull during departure for Gander on May 31, 2006. The crew decided to return to St. John's as a precautionary measure. The Beech turbo-prop landed without further incident; the pilot later reported minor damage.

A Hibernia-bound Sikorsky helicopter reported a bird strike about a half-mile south of the airport on May 31, 2004. The pilot requested a return to the airport, and landed a short time later. According to the airport manager, the bird struck by the chopper landed on - and broke - a car window below.

An Air Canada Airbus A319 struck a small flock of "sparrow-type birds" on departure from Runway 34 on Feb. 28, 2004. The runway foreman later found eight dead birds on the runway. No damage was reported to the aircraft.

While Transport Canada does not yet have 2008 figures compiled, St. John's airport officials said the number of strikes dropped to nine last year.

rantle@thetelegram.com