Four years after the "Miracle on the Hudson," a higher-tech way to combat bird strikes
Remember the Miracle on the Hudson? It happened four years ago today. And it happened because of birds. US Airways Flight 1549 had just taken off from New York's La Guardia Airport when, still climbing, it collided with a flock of Canadian geese. The bird strike caused both of the plane's engines to lose thrust, and the vehicle -- piloted by the about-to-become-famous Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger -- was forced to land on the improvised runway that was the Hudson River.
The "miracle" of the landing, of course, was that the plane made it successfully. The only fatalities involved in the incident, ultimately, belonged to birds.
Four years after that, a bird strike -- sometimes also called a Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard, or BASH -- remains a rare but destructive phenomenon. Which makes it one of those ironies that speak to the frailty of human technology: All the knowledge embedded in an aircraft -- all the physical prowess, all the digital nuance -- can still be thwarted by a coincidental collusion with birds. To the extent, per one estimate, that our feathered friends can cause more than a billion -- billion, with a b -- dollars' worth of damage to aircraft in a single year.