The Bird Strike Challenge - Airbus Fleet (some insights based on my own everyday experience working with an A320 fleet)
1. Most bird strikes happen below 2000 feet above ground level during take-off, landing, and associated phases.
2. It is impossible to avoid a bird that is going to collide with an aircraft. Consequently, the efforts regarding airline KPIs improvements must be focused on mitigating the severity of the damages and not the rate of bird strike events.
3. Based on the physical law known as Linear Momentum, where the severity of the damage correlates with the mass and the speed of the objects (the same formula used by car insurance companies), one effective way to mitigate it is by reducing the approach speed during the bird migration seasons. A reduction in a few knots makes a huge difference.
4. Damages occur mainly on the engine fan blades and radome (It is mandatory to open and examine the radome on the inside. In some special conditions, the radome can have delamination without organic residue or signs of impact on the outside.)
5. Windshields, flaps, slats, engine air intake, antennas, lights fitted in the nose gear, landing light, pitot tubes, and in some cases, radar antenna and its motor drive are also affected.
6. Titanium Fan blades installed in the CFM56 and V2500 engines have a higher rate of damage than the LEAP and PW1100 engine series equipped with 3D woven carbon fiber composite blades.
7 The fact that the taxi, runway, take-off, and landing lights have evolved to LED technology does not mean they are less affected by bird strikes.
8. Migration is a key part of birds' survival. Many people mistakenly believe that all birds migrate, nevertheless, several birds do not migrate or are short-distance migrants because they can find adequate food supplies all time.
9. Medium and long-distance bird migrants typically move massively from Central and South America to the United States and Canada between March-May (1st season) and on the way back during August-November (2nd season). In consequence, airlines' operational KPIs as On-Time Performance and Aircraft Availability are not the best during these months.
10. During the 2nd season, hurricanes and storms in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean seem to affect the migratory bird routes. Birds prefer to take an alternate way flying over Panama and Colombia instead of the usual bird migration route over the Caribbean, increasing the bird strike rate by 2 or 3 times in these countries versus the 1st season.