New awareness for the risk of bird strikes in aviation is being raised by the release of motion picture “Sully: The Untold Story of the Miracle on the Hudson”.
The film which features Tom Hanks as Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger portrays the aftermath of the anding of US Airways Airbus A320 Flight 1549 on the frigid water of the Hudson River (New York City) following a bird strike.
Wildlife strikes are relatively infrequent, only 3 percent of the strikes results in aircraft damage and less than 1 percent caused substantial aircraft damage. More than 90 percent of all wildlife strikes occurs at altitudes of less than 3,000 feet (typically at locations on or near airports). Airport operators worldwide are aware of wildlife hazards and consider wildlife management as part of their daily operations.
Although there is often a strong focus on radar systems which see the birds before they are in close proximity to the airports, bird controllers disperse birds that pose an immediate threat to arriving and departing aircrafts.
According to Bird Control Group there are various methods like emitting distress calls of birds and shoot pyro techniques to disperse birds. Bird controllers know from their experience which bird species react best to which tool. Often a combination of tools gives the best results. By adding new technologies to the bird controllers’ tool box, the bird controllers increase their effectiveness and thus increase safety along the runways.
The latest innovation for bird controllers has been the use of lasers. Birds perceive the laser beam as a physical danger. By moving the laser beam towards birds, they fly away. This is the same reflex as a car that drives towards birds.