Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Collisions between aircraft and wildlife (i.e., wildlife strikes) pose a serious threat toward the safety of aircraft, its crew, and passengers. The effects of COVID-19 related travel restrictions on wildlife strikes are unknown. With this study, we aim to address this information gap by assessing the changes of wildlife hazard management performance across European airports during the lockdown period (e.g., period of reduced operations and borders closure in spring 2020). We also sought to raise awareness of the importance of wildlife strike prevention in times of reduced operations. The objective of our study was to compare wildlife strike data before and during the lockdown based on the following criteria: (1) the number of wildlife strikes per 10,000 flights, (2) the groups of wildlife species involved, and (3) the lighting conditions. To conduct our research, we analyzed a dataset of 12,528 wildlife strikes, gathered from 157 civil airports across Europe for the period from March 2017 to February 2021. Our analysis revealed a wide variation in the wildlife strike rates during the lockdown (period of time from March 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021). Our study uncovered an increasing trend of the relative strike rates for almost all wildlife species categories and a slight trend toward more strikes occurring during daytime compared to nighttime. Our findings highlighted the need for continuous wildlife hazard management despite fluctuation in flights and provide potential for airports, airline operators, and other aviation stakeholders to reduce wildlife strike risk.