WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is calling for federal action to lessen the number of aviation incidents caused by birds flying into airplane engines.
The senator seeks legislation that would aim to remove Canada Geese that pose a public safety risk at major New York airports by cutting the “red tape” between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Park Service (NPS), according to a statement released Wednesday by her office.
Gillibrand’s call comes two days after a JetBlue flight heading to West Palm Beach, Fla., struck two geese shortly after departing from the Westchester County Airport. Though no one was injured, the plane had to return to the county airport and make an emergency landing.
The press release said the legislation would force the USDA to act within 90 days after receiving approval from a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) representative to remove Canada Geese within five miles of commercial airports that might pose a threat to flight safety. If successful, the bill would remove the geese from the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens by Aug. 1.
“We cannot afford to sit back and wait for a catastrophe to occur before cutting through bureaucratic red tape between federal agencies,” Gillibrand said. “We cannot and should not wait another day to act while public safety is at risk.”
Westchester County Airport Manager Peter Scherrer said Tuesday night's incident was reported to the FAA to put in its wildlife database to track flight patterns so such an incident can be prevented in the future. However, planes striking birds in midair is a common occurrence. The FAA’s wildlife database reports that four other commercial flights departing from the county airport have struck birds midair since Oct. 2011. Since March 1, LaGuardia and Kennedy airports have reported a combined 13 incidents.