Over 400 aircraft parts have fallen from the sky and landed in Germany in the past 10 years, according to government data. Although many pieces were small, politicians warned that each falling part is one too many.
Military aircraft and passenger planes flying over Germany dropped hundreds of parts over the past decade, the Transport Ministry said on Thursday, in response to a parliamentary request by the Greens.
The military was by far the largest source of falling plane parts, according to the government data.
Since 2008, the German Federal Aviation Office (LBA) logged 351 cases of parts falling from military aircraft and 57 cases from passenger planes, bringing the total to 408.
Most of the dropped parts were small, including screws or light-weight protective covers, although the ministry documented cases where a 6-meter (19.6 foot)-long spare tank fell as well as an engine casing fragment that weighed around 12 kilograms (26.5 pounds).
Military jets dropping parts
However, passenger planes are increasingly guilty, with 13 cases logged in 2017 alone.
The military, on the other hand, saw the number of dropped aircraft parts lessen over the past few years. Still, the report identified the military’s Eurofighter jets as the aircraft that dropped the most parts — some 100 times over the past 10 years.
Despite this, experts said the government report was not necessarily a cause for concern, saying that the number of cases is extremely small when compared to how much air traffic there is over Germany.
Klaus Wolf, an aircraft technician with the research university TU Dresden, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that although it’s concerning when plane parts come loose, “you can’t always rule it out.”
Rubber strip lands in garden
In June, one man in the city of Mainz found a strip of rubber in his garden that had likely fallen from an aircraft. The rubber strip was around 1.5 meters long
“It was clear to me that if such a piece were to hit you, it would have caused at least serious injury if not death,” Thomas Weyer, the man who found the item, told local public broadcaster Hessischer Rundfunk.
Mainz is located on the approach to Frankfurt Airport, the largest airport in Germany and one of the busiest in Europe.
Despite Weyer’s discovery, the government said it hadn’t registered any cases of parts falling in residential areas, prompting parliamentarians to doubt the accuracy of the LBA’s recordkeeping.
Tabea Rössner and Daniela Wagner, two parliamentarians with the opposition Green Party whose constituencies are located near Frankfurt Airport, requested the data from the government in order to find out how often the parts fall in Germany.
“Given the danger that emanates from falling aircraft parts, each event is one too many,” Wagner told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.