Dozens of planes hit wildlife every year in Charleston

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – The Federal Aviation Authority recorded more than 300 “wildlife strikes” at the Charleston International Airport in the last 11 years.

The FAA maintains an online data-base with a record of when planes have hit animals since 1990.

According to numbers from that database, airplanes at the Charleston International Airport have had more wildlife strikes than any other airport in the state in the last 11 years.

Since Jan. 1, 2008, there have been 346 wildlife strikes at the Charleston airport. In that same time, there have been 239 strikes at the Myrtle Beach International Airport and 173 animals hit at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport.

“I think that’s shocking,” West Ashley resident Laura McGuire said. “It’s very sad, too, for the animals. And maybe it’s not that safe for the planes either."

Most wildlife strikes do not cause damage to the planes, but in the last 11 years, 7 wildlife strikes have caused “substantial” damage, according to the FAA database.

One report at the Oconee County Regional Airport noted an airplane hitting a white-tailed deer in 2010, which caused $256,000 in damages.

The most expensive wildlife strike in Charleston happened in 2015 when an airplane hit a turkey vulture, which caused $5,864 in damages.

So far this year, the FAA has recorded one airplane hitting a small bird at the Charleston airport.

In 2018, there were 64 recorded instances of animals hit by a plane in Charleston and there were 150 wildlife strikes across the state.

Only one case of substantial damage has been documented at the Charleston airport, which happened in 2012.

A spokesperson for Joint Base Charleston said their crews handle wildlife management at the airport by keeping grass trimmed short and keeping drainage ditches clean, among other methods.

“Direct control is another method used, which involves scare cannons and pyrotechnics,” Chief of Media Operations Alejandra Fontalvo said. “The loud noise is used to scare birds away and keep them away. Lethal control is used as a last resort.”

According to the FAA website, wildlife strike reporting is voluntary, so the data represents information reported y airlines, airports, pilots and other sources.

Copyright 2019 WCSC. All rights reserved.

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