The original rulers of the sky are the birds but looks like planes are trying their level best to keep them off. Yes, bird menace is a big issue which has forced many airports across the world to install sophisticated systems to keep them away. A few years ago, the dramatic landing of a plane in the Hudson river in New York was caused due to a bird hitting the windshield within minutes of take off.
In fact that’s what it is all about – birds can cause an accident only when taking off or landing; it is only below 5000 feet that planes encounter birds. And all technology is being used for keeping off the birds at that height only.
The ways to scare off the birds used by airports are truly interesting! Using air cannons when birds are present in an area of aircraft activity to altering the nearby landscape to be less bird-friendly, filling in ponds or replacing grass with gravel are some of the solutions.
Salt Lake City’s airport deploys pigs to eat up gull eggs, and border collies chase away herons and egrets at Southwest Florida International in Fort Myers. France’s Lourdes-Tarbes-Pyrénées airport even lights up LED screens with a googly eye graphic to scare off the raptors.
Reagan National (DCA) and Dulles International (IAD) airports fire off pyrotechnics and broadcast “bird-of-prey and distress calls that deter nesting birds” via speakers in key locations around the airfields.
Amsterdam-Schiphol, Chicago-O’Hare, Seattle – Tacoma and Turkey’s newly opened Istanbul Airport use advanced radar systems, which share live, round-the-clock Doppler readings on the size, location, and movements of flocks of birds within miles of the airport, updates which allow controllers to activate air cannons, time arrivals or departures to avoid large flocks, and dispatch staff to use lethal methods to control the bird situation in an area.
Hangars housing planes also face this menace and they use creative methods like placing realistic owl figurines in the space and use machines which spread aromas; especially that of grapes to keep off birds – birds hate these sweet smells.
Surely, the birds might be pretty infuriated with us humans for first taking away their space and then using techniques to even keep them away. Story of all development – environment is always the collateral damage.