U.S. News

FAA to open airline bird-strike data to public

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Under pressure from safety investigators, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration will open its database on incidents of airplanes hitting birds to the public beginning on Friday.

The FAA said late on Wednesday it had dropped its objection after a month-long review determined that releasing the information would not jeopardize safety by discouraging airlines and airports from reporting bird strikes.

Bird strikes are not uncommon and the issue drew worldwide attention in January when a US Airways jetliner struck a flock of geese shortly after takeoff. With both engines disabled, the jet landed safely in New York’s Hudson River.

Parts of the bird database have long been public, but specific information about airlines and bird-strike locations have been kept confidential to ensure continued cooperation from airlines and airports, which report the incidents voluntarily.

Some information will continue to be redacted to protect privacy, the agency said.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates airline and other transportation accidents, told the agency in a letter that a lack of public information “could hamper efforts to understand the nature and potential effects of wildlife threats to aviation.”

The safety board believes mandatory reporting of all bird strikes would allow more complete and accurate assessment of the problem.

Reporting by John Crawley; Editing by Eric Beech