Bird Strikes: An Aviator’s Nightmare
Major air disasters as a result of bird strikes are fairly rare. However, if you think about the damage a bird flying into a car windscreen causes and then multiply that several times for the greater speed involved in flying, you can see why bird strikes are a reportable accident to the Civil Aviation Authority.
There have been a few significant accidents involving birds that did make the news. One such event was the US Airways Flight 1549 that was forced to make an emergency landing into the Hudson River after hitting a gaggle of Canada geese whilst it was climbing out of La Guardia, New York. Thankfully, all the crew and passengers were rescued with only a few injuries, and the pilot, Captain Sullenberger, was hailed as a hero for landing the plane on the river without engines. His quick thinking avoided a major disaster, and he and his flight crew were acknowledged with the Masters Medal from the GAPAN.
Bird strike prevention
The highest risk of bird strike is when they are closer to the ground, and one of the best ways to avoid this is to prevent their presence. The risk of bird strike is contracted out with the use of bird control services in London and other major airports, and this can be paid for under the budget for security and safety. However, at smaller private aerodromes, keeping birds at bay can be more of a challenge, which means owners need to be a little more imaginative with their bird scaring tactics.
The playing of distress calls, firing flares and the flying of birds of prey are some of the options that have been used, to varying degrees of success. Another option that has been tried is to adjust the length of the grass around the runway to try to deter the birds from landing in the first place. Fitting all the aerodrome buildings with nesting deterrents also helps to decrease its attractiveness to returning seasonal birds. The strategic use of bird control specialists such as http://www.vvenv.co.uk/ during the nesting season can help to alleviate seasonal problems.
Research continues into the possibility of making aircraft more visible to birds, ensuring they have the maximum time to avoid being hit. Adopting these solutions will hopefully continue to keep major bird strike disasters a rare occurrence.