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It’s bird strike season again at Sacramento International Airport

A Southwest Boeing 737 jet leaves Sacramento International at sunset in February 2008, seemingly accompanied by migrating birds.
A Southwest Boeing 737 jet leaves Sacramento International at sunset in February 2008, seemingly accompanied by migrating birds. Sacramento Bee file

January is the month with the most bird strikes at Sacramento International Airport. Most do little or no damage to planes, but some have caused crashes elsewhere. Last week in Sacramento, a strike caused a United Airlines jet engine to catch fire, forcing the pilot to turn the plane around and land.

Sacramento bird strike facts:

▪ The airport sits under the Pacific Flyway, a major bird migration corridor.

▪ December and January are peak months, but bird strikes are reported year-round.

▪ Annually, 130 to 200 strikes are reported.

▪ In more than 90 percent of cases, the incident does not affect the airline’s flight.

▪ In 2014, two pilots made urgency landings.

▪ The airport uses pyrotechnics to attempt to scare birds away from runways, but most collisions occur a few miles from the runway.

▪ Post-crash DNA testing shows collisions at Sacramento have involved sparrows, doves, swallows, blackbirds, red-tailed hawks and owls.

Reported strikes at Sacramento International

Numbers were down in 2014 due in part to drought.


 

 

January has the highest average number of strikes in recent years, but many strikes also occur in June and July.

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