Anonymous asked in Cars & TransportationAircraft · 8 years ago

The swirl on airplane turbines/engines?

So I know the technical reason for the swirl on planes is for safety but I also heard that it was to help cut down on bird accidents. I was wondering if there was any validity about that. Like if there has been a study or where I could find it.....Thanks!

5 Answers

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago
    Best Answer

    Despite the swirl - I ate a few birds in my career -

    It helps ground staff to know which engines are running on the ground...

    Nice "little big birds" do severe damage on engines -

    I once had a flock of large birds failing nº 4 engine on takeoff -

    And nearly failing nº 3 as well... did cause a bad emergency (was on 747) -

    Lucky it was a cargo airplane, would have sent 350 passengers in hotels -

    I love birds, but sorry, not near jet engines -

    Source(s): Retired airline pilot
  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    The swirl will help both pilots and ground crew to know which engine is running and which one is not. The fan blades on the engines are designed to actually cut and kill those birds to smaller pieces before it destroys the engine! Usually bird strikes occur at lower altitudes, mostly is when the plane is taking off.

    Source(s): Nat geo :D
  • 8 years ago

    Besides letting the ground crews know which engine is running, the swirl also is an anti-bird feature. The light pulses are similar to birds of prey such as falcons when light reflects from their eyes, so they indicate a raptor, and thus birds avoid them. The idea is for birds to spot them a ways off, and alter the birds flight path to avoid the engines, not because they are engines, since birds aren't that smart, but because they are giving off a raptor light pattern and the birds want to instinctively stay away from them.

    Unfortunately, aircraft are so fast now, that they frequently still overtake birds and swallow them. But modern jet engines are designed to swallow birds (even though each one has a little sack of gravel in it's crop to digest food) and dispose of them, as long as there aren't too many of them, or they aren't too big. But as the U.S. Airways flight ditching in the Hudson river shows, sometimes you just can't win.

    Source(s): life in aviation.
  • 8 years ago

    If the birds were aware of what it looked like while it wasn't moving, and their pea brains could actually remember that compared to an operating engine, and they could do a 180 degree turn in about 200 microseconds, then it would be very informational for the birds.

    But alas, as skipper stated, it is just for ground crew.

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  • 8 years ago

    The swirling pattern tells ground personnel whether or not the engine is turning. It was hoped that it might scare birds as well, but it doesn't.

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