Preventing bird strikes

According to audiotapes released by the FAA, US Airways Flight 1549, known as the “Miracle on the Hudson,” suffered a “double bird strike.” A formation of birds had approached the aircraft while it passed through an altitude of about 3,200 feet. When the aircraft hit the birds, the windscreen quickly turned dark brown and both engines ingested birds, causing an immediate loss of virtually all thrust. Passengers and crew later reported hearing “very loud bangs” in both engines, then noticed flaming exhaust followed by silence as the odor of unburned fuel filled the cabin. Fortunately, under the expert guidance of the flight crew, the damaged aircraft landed safely and everyone survived.

Reports of airplanes hitting birds rose dramatically in 2009. In fact, bird strikes last year could top 10,000 for the first time, an average of 27 strikes every day. In the first seven months of 2009, at least 57 bird strikes caused serious damage, three destroyed planes and a corporate helicopter was destroyed, killing eight and injuring six.

Unfortunately birds can cause more damage at airports than just bird strikes. Birds will nest or roost in maintenance buildings and hangars, on top of roofs, and on aircraft itself. Bird droppings are corrosive and can damage most building materials, including steel, aluminum, concrete and more.

The problem is that many airports are positioned near open fields or wetlands and airports provide ample structures and elements that birds need to survive. While some airports have wildlife management programs to help reduce bird strikes, there are still large numbers across the nation and globe struggling to control bird populations.

The solution? Professional bird proofing.

There are businesses out there that specialize in bird control, such as Bird Doctor Nationwide of Paramus, N.J. According to officials at the company, ridding airports of birds usually involves a thorough assessment of the airport and surrounding areas and careful consideration of the right products or methods to use. The proper selection, installation and implementation of bird control products or techniques can mean the difference between success and failure, officials note. Most wildlife and pest control professionals agree that it takes an integrated approach when tackling large spaces.

It’s called “Integrated Bird Management,” which means individual areas need specific treatments or modifications. Open spaces and wetland areas will require different products than hangars or control towers.

There are a number of bird control products out there that can be used to help deter birds from airports. Bird control professionals are familiar with the various products available and have field experience to help decipher what works best where.

Many have used non-toxic chemical repellents dispensed by misters and foggers for open airfields. These bird-proofing systems discourage pest birds from nesting and roosting by broadcasting a super fine mist or fog of methyl anthranilate, a non-toxic grape extract, into areas occupied by pest birds. The chemical irritates the trigeminal nerve and mucous membranes of birds when they fly through it. This will not harm birds, but will deter them from the area.

To keep pest birds from nesting and roosting in hangars or other airport structures, there’s bird netting. Bird netting is used as a physical barrier to block birds out of unwanted areas. Installed correctly, bird netting is a humane and an extremely effective means of deterring birds, company officials note.

For hangar roofs, traffic control towers, runway signs, and other areas, bird spikes can be installed. The U.S. Humane Society and PICAS have approved spikes as a humane bird deterrent. Installed properly, they are basically maintenance free. Bird spikes create an uneven surface that birds will not want to land on.

Another particularly effective bird proofing device is Electric Track. These devices “convince” pest birds to stay away by delivering a harmless electric shock the second they set foot on the electrified track. Electric bird tracks are low profile and effective for small and large birds.

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  1. Norbert Paas says

    We have two planes, each experienced a bird strike with damage. Why not get rid of the non-migrating geese? They should be up nort breeding not on airports and golfcourses.

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