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Presidents Letter


Capt van Eekeren

Captain Rob van Eekeren - Executive Director, WBA.

 WBA logo.


The updated report on the MD 83, Dana Air flight 0992 crash at Lagos Nigeria, killing 147 passengers, 6 crew and 13 ground fatalities, did not reveal if the loss of engine power has been caused by bird ingestion, as initially claimed.  At this moment it is also not officially reported if the Sita Air crash at Kathmandu, Nepal killing 19 passengers and crew was caused by birds or not.  Nevertheless, the conclusion might be that flight safety needs continuous effort. The aim of the World Birdstrike Association (WBA)[1] is to further improve flight safety, reduction in associated aircraft repair, flight disruption and passenger delays by reducing the wildlife strike risk to an acceptable level. 

Also relevant for the WBA is the conviction by the Italian court of a group of scientists at 23 October. 7 Scientists have been sentenced 6 years in jail for failing to predict the deadly 2009 temblor in the town of L’Aquilla. This raises an interesting question. Could scientists also be held liable for not adequately predicting the presence of wildlife at that moment endangering the flightpath of a flight after a fatal air crash?

Various organizations have shown initiatives on wildlife strikes, as demonstrated by the various plans and manuals addressing the wildlife hazard issue. These documents have generally in common that they are produced in accordance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices with the best intentions on the subject of wildlife and aviation. However, it is believed that effective coordination on a global scale is lacking.

The WBA believes that world wide coordination between all relevant stakeholder partners is absolutely essential in order to take the next step in further reducing the wildlife/bird strike risk posed to aviation. In order to achieve that, the World Birdstrike Association aims to start an initiative to jointly work together with all partner stakeholders in establishing a joined-up global action plan on the reduction of the bird strike risk to aviation.

It is not about re-inventing the wheel, but much more about profiting from all already well established initiatives in reviewing and improving them in order to coordinate regulation, policies, procedures and implementation.

An effective adoption of  “best practices” shall lead to an increased learning from each other, to improvement of the interfaces and most importantly to an increased acceptance by all involved in reducing the wildlife strike risk posed to both civil and military aviation. The process of reaching these goals will be an essential part of the success of its outcome.

Although much has been achieved, it is the question of this will be enough when you will face questions in a (Italian) court. The successful establishment of a global coordinated and accepted action plan by all relevant partners and stakeholders would provide the best guidelines, recommendations and best practices.  I’m convinced that this will be a better defence when the … hits the fan than any lawyer could provide you with. The WBA members form all together the WBA and as a group we could make a difference. May I count on you in becoming an active member? 

Captain Rob van Eekeren
Executive Director

[1] Formerly International Birdstrike Committee (IBSC)