FAA keeps airline bird strikes from public - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

FAA keeps airline bird strikes from public

WASHINGTON. - The Federal Aviation Administration wants to keep secret from airline travelers its records on how frequently and where planes are damaged by bird strikes.

The issue has come up constantly since a U.S. Airways flight was forced to ditch on the Hudson River in New York, after a bird strike took out its engines.

Now, the question is, is keeping this information secret a public safety issue?

If a bird strike were to happen, the FAA says it will not make that incident public.

Only major bird strikes, like the US Air splashdown in January, make headlines, but most bird strike incidents never see the light of day.

The FAA says it will not make public 100,000 reported bird strike cases, big and small, over the last 20 years including which airports have the most incidents.

Air traffic controllers among those saying public reporting will improve safety.

"Let the pilots get that information. Make it mandatory. They'll get it to the public, they'll get it to the press. And people will know," said Barrett Burns spokesman for the Air Traffic Controller's Union.

At airports, reporting bird strikes is voluntary.

The FAA does provide total numbers yearly 7,500 last year up from 5800 in 2000 but no specifics.

The FAA says privacy encourages airlines and airports to report incidents.

Senator Schumer says reporting should be mandatory.

The National Transportation Safety board made similar recommendations years ago but the FAA is against them.

"The NTSB puts safety first. The FAA sometimes puts airlines first and that's one of the problems here," said Schumer.

The number of flights continues to grow, as does the populations of large birds.

Critics say it's a collision course happening in the shadows.

The FAA emphasizes that the loss of both engines on a jetliner due to a bird strike is very rare.

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