The jet engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney (P&W) and its team are conducting a research on the bird strikes and aviation safety issues, mainly involving the P&W products.

The release of the movie "Sully: The Untold Story of the Miracle on the Hudson" brought the subject of bird strikes, which occur when a bird or flock of birds collide with an aircraft, into the public eye. Bird and other wildlife strikes to aircraft are a serious matter, as it's estimated they cause more than $900 million in damage to US civil and military aircraft each year. In addition, more than 250 lives have been lost worldwide since 1988 as a result of wildlife strikes.

Chris Demers, a Flight Safety Office engineer of P&W, and his Flight Safety colleagues take the topic of bird strikes seriously in their role of investigating potential flight safety issues and aviation incidents involving Pratt & Whitney products.

Demers said: "We work to understand the types of birds being ingested, when and how often it happens and how the engine responds to a strike. With that information, the design of engines can be improved to better withstand a bird strike impact."

While bird strikes are fairly common, they are rarely as dangerous as seen in the movies. Still, it is essential that all bird ingestion data is compiled and analyzed.

Demers added: "When a bird collides with an aircraft engine, we collect samples so that the species can be identified to obtain the bird weight, as well as information on any engine damage and how the engine continued to perform.

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We use this data to help calibrate designs and the results are compared to test outcomes to ensure the engines continue to perform within certification standards."

As an industry representative on Bird Strike Committee USA, Demers also provides outreach to airports and operators to help prevent incidents that involve wildlife. Bird Strike Committee USA is a collaborative government-industry organization whose mission is to promote wildlife strike awareness and reporting with a goal of mitigating wildlife hazards to aviation.