Airport Bird Strike Prevention Techniques
Collisions between birds and aircraft are responsible for significant losses in the aviation industry in terms of aircraft damage, delays caused while an airplane that has been in a collision is checked for safety, and even sometimes crashes leading to loss of life. Although numerous techniques are available for airport bird strike prevention, there is no standard procedure at present and control measures are applied at vastly differing levels from airport to airport.
The basic principle underlying bird management at airports is that the reduction of the number of birds on and around an airfield will automatically reduce the likelihood of a bird strike. This is a complex issue in areas where migratory birds are present with many of them being over 2 kilograms in weight – a high risk factor. Many airports use bird behavior modification techniques which involve habitat management, whereby food and water resources as well as natural nesting areas are removed, causing the birds to move away. Depending on the environment, this often has little success on its own and takes a long time to remedy the situation. Active bird deterrence, together with habitat modification is more successful. Active bird deterrence involves bird patrols and scaring devices. Contractors actively deter or remove birds from high risk areas using recorded distress calls, pyrotechnics or even live ammunition. These techniques have different levels of success depending on the environment and the bird species involved.
With the increase in air traffic, there have been a number of new innovations utilizing advanced technology, with the aim of reducing the possibility of bird strikes. These include a radio-controlled airplane which can be controlled by an operator to fly around an airport in a random pattern. The radio-controlled airplane includes a receiver which controls the launching of a capsule that burns with a smoke trail for a period of time and then explodes with a loud noise, a brilliant flash and a cloud of smoke – all designed the scare birds away from the airport. Other products on the market include aircraft bird strike avoidance radars and avian survey and monitoring radars.
As man continues to encroach on the natural habitat of birds and other wildlife, the problem of airplane bird strikes is one that is here to stay. No doubt ongoing research into this problem will produce solutions to ensure that when you board an airplane you will reach your destination safely.