For the birds: FAA bird strike program deemed ineffective

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"Inspectors we spoke with mostly relied on interviews with personnel to determine compliance with regulatory requirements, rather than reviewing strike and airport records," he continued. "Also, inspectors were not maintaining adequate records of their inspection activities."

The FAA's website says it has tracked information on birds interfering with airplanes, or bird strikes, for more than 50 years. However, the agency said it did not make the information public until April 2009, three months after the emergency landing that has become widely known as the "Miracle on the Hudson."

In that instance, U.S. Airways pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger landed the airline's Flight 1549 safely on the Hudson River after its engines became disabled following a bird strike.

The DOT inspector general's report found that despite the renewed attention on clearing birds from flight paths since the emergency landing, the FAA "did not always initiate enforcement actions against noncompliant airports.

"FAA’s policies and guidance for monitoring, reporting, and mitigating wildlife hazards are mostly voluntary, thereby limiting their effectiveness," Guzzetti said. "While FAA recommends wildlife strike reporting, it does not require it. Consequently, not all airports choose to report all their wildlife strikes."

A New York lawmaker, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D), pushed earlier this year to allow hunters to kill birds near New York City's airport to reduce the number of bird strikes in the heavy air-traffic area.

The DOT inspector general did not address Gillibrand's proposal, but the report recommended the FAA better enforce the reporting requirements for bird strikes.