Christchurch International Airport Ltd (CIAL) has come out in
support of the change in protection status of Canada Geese.
"This bird is a hazard to aircraft," said CIAL Chief Executive
Jim Boult. "Canada Geese are large and cumbersome birds which
can cause a great deal of damage if they collide with
Jim Boult pointed out that the Canada Geese population had
steadily increased in Christchurch city over the last few years,
which raised the risk of bird strike to aircraft. "We want to keep
the population of Canada Geese to manageable levels, which will
help keep the airspace as clear as possible."
Bird strikes frequently cause aircraft incidents throughout the
world. Birds can be injested by aircraft engines during takeoffs
and landings, and this can cause engine failure, sometimes with
Jim Boult noted that the plane that had an emergency landing
into the Hudson River in January 2009 did so because it was struck
by a flock of geese.
The airport already has a variety of strategies in place to
manage the bird populations around the airport, including ensuring
that surrounding vegetation does not attract birds, scaring them
away, stopping them roosting, and when necessary, culling the
Bird Strike Incidents
According to Birdstrike USA, a 5kg bird struck by an aircraft
travelling at 240kmh generates the force of a 455kg weight dropped
from a height of three metres.
As the amount of air traffic increases, the number of bird
strikes internationally has been rising over the past 20 years,
from about 1500 in 1990 to about 8000 last year.
In the United Kingdom the Central Science Laboratory estimates
that, worldwide, the cost of birdstrikes to airlines is around
US$1.2 billion annually. This cost includes direct repair cost and
lost revenue opportunities while the damaged aircraft is out of
The incident that prompted bird control measures for many
airports around the world occurred in 1960, when a plane flying
from Boston collided with a flock of starlings. All four
engines were damaged, the plane crashed into Boston Harbour, and 62
In July 1985, just as a Boeing 747 with 350 passengers on
board took off from Christchurch International Airport, it hit
three birds on the runway. No. 3 engine caught fire, and no.
1 engine was shut down as the plane lifted off. The plane dumped
3.5 tonnes of fuel over the sea and turned back to land. With
ambulances and fire engines on standby, it made a rocky but safe
landing. The Airport Authority subsequently implemented a
comprehensive bird control programme.
In September 1995, an Air Force surveillance plane crashed
near Anchorage, killing all 24 crew members aboard. The cause of
the crash was the collision of several Canada geese with the plane;
the $180 million high-tech aircraft was completely
In September 2005, a plane took off from Ohio and injested
birds at lift-off. The aircraft crashed through an airport
fence and slid across a highway into a cornfield. The pilot
was injured and the aircraft was damaged beyond repair.
In March 2006, an Airbus in Virginia flew through a flock of
starlings. Birds were injested by both engines and the plane
was forced to land, unable to fly. One engine had to be
replaced at a cost of $1.3 million.
In February 2009, a bird strike left a fist-sized hole in the
wing of an A320 flying from Melbourne to Christchurch.
Although the plane was damaged, no passengers were hurt.