Birdstrikes in 10 years: Moruya (43), Merimbula (27) and Nowra (13)

The number of birdstrike incidents is growing on the South Coast.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau's latest report showed there were 43 confirmed incidents of birdstrikes at Moruya airport, 27 at Merimbula airport and 13 at Nowra airport between 2008 and 2017. 

However, the number of birdstrikes at South Coast airports was much fewer than the major airports at Sydney (1070), Wagga Wagga (195), Williamtown (177) and Dubbo (161).

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Most birdstrikes, where planes hit a bird, take place within five kilometres of the aerodrome or on the aerodrome.

The report said the birdstrike incidents have not resulted in any fatality or major damage to an aircraft in the state, but a few incidents in the past have left some pilots and passengers injured.

A spokesperson at Eurobodalla Shire Council said the council has taken several measures to prevent the risk of bird and animal strikes with planes.

"These include daily counts, monitoring and reporting of bird and animal populations, increased inspections and monitoring during periods of higher activities," the spokesperson said.

"Improving knowledge, reporting and methodologies continues to be the key to hazard management."

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The council said the 2016 March to June season saw a massive increase in flying fox activity at Moruya airport. 

"SAAB aircraft frequently struck bats, causing delays and mechanical issues," the council spokesperson said.

A REX flight 139 struck a bird on April 8, 2018 on final approach to runway 18.

The council said the plane required an engineering inspection after the strike, which caused significant passenger and flight disruptions. 

Data showed sparrows, flying foxes, magpies, swallows and bats were mostly involved in the incidents in the past 10 years at Moruya airport.

Authorities couldn't identify birds in 17 incidents.

Flying fox. Photo: FILE

Flying fox. Photo: FILE

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Data showed at least three incidents took place at Merimbula airport in 2017 compared with six in 2016.

A spokesperson at Bega Valley Shire Council said the reduction in the number of birdstrikes is mainly a coincidence associated with the dry weather.

"The lack of available food would lead to the birds looking elsewhere," the spokesperson said.

"The airport operator is required to have a Wildlife Hazard Management Plan (WHMP). 

"The aviation sector frequently shares via newsletters, conferences, etc the latest methods of detecting and managing wildlife, drawing on experiences in Australia and overseas. This information helps inform the WHMP reviews."

Data showed planes mostly hit plovers, sparrows, ducks, masked lapwings and whistling kites at Merimbula airport.

House Sparrow. Photo: FILE

House Sparrow. Photo: FILE

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A total of 16,626 confirmed birdstrike incidents took place in the state between 2008 and 2017. 

The number of incidents was highest in 2017, but birdstrikes rarely result in aircraft damage or injuries, according to the report.

"Nine birdstrikes, or approximately 0.05 per cent of the birdstrikes in 10 years, resulted in minor injuries to pilots or passengers," the report said.

It said the five most commonly struck flying animals were flying foxes, galahs, magpies, 'bats' (many of which were likely to be flying foxes) and plovers.

The most common non-flying animals that collided with planes were hares, rabbits, kangaroos, wallabies, and foxes.

This story Mid-air collision: Planes hit 80 birds in the South Coast sky first appeared on Bega District News.