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FAA Honors VNY for Strike Reporting Excellence

In 2009, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger successfully landed a commercial airliner on New York’s Hudson River that had sustained engine failure after striking a flock of geese upon takeoff.  Remarkably, all 150 passengers and five crew members survived. This incident continues to draw public attention to the threat of bird strikes faced by airports across the nation. 

Thanks to the dedicated efforts of VNY personnel, the airport was recently honored with the FAA’s Sandy Wright/Richard Dolbeer Excellence in Strike Reporting Award. This annual recognition is presented to only one certified and one general aviation airport for having an exceptional bird strike reporting program.  Both VNY and La Guardia Airport were selected based on the number, completeness, timeliness and consistency of reports filed, among other criteria. VNY was also complimented for its outstanding notification and report modification procedures. 

The problem of bird strikes is not new. In fact, the first bird strike was documented in 1905 when Orville Wright flew over a corn field near Dayton, Ohio.  While bird strikes that result in aircraft damage or injuries are rare, VNY works closely with a designated biologist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to mitigate wildlife hazards to aviation. 

“When we observe large varieties of birds or something that appears unusual, our staff immediately notifies our USDA wildlife biologist,” said Airport Superintendent of Operations Corey Schultheis, who serves as VNY’s wildlife coordinator. “We work proactively with air traffic control and pilots to report information that will provide a more complete picture of what is happening and help reduce any potential threats.”