How do airport authorities deal with with birds? Which procedures have acutually been used in order to minimize or even avoid birds on airside and landside? Is there any procedure that crew can perform in order to minimize the danger caused by birds?
Airports are responsible for bird control and should provide adequate wildlife control measures. Some major airports are provided with an ornithological department that has ravens or similar birds trained to drive away other birds from the airport premises.
However, this is not a 100% efficient solution and flight crews have procedures that must follow if birds are reported.
If large birds or flocks of birds are reported or observed near the runway, the flight crew should consider:
- Delaying the takeoff or landing when fuel permits. Advise the tower and wait for airport action before continuing.
- Take off or land on another runway that is free of bird activity, if available.
To prevent or reduce the consequences of a bird strike, the flight crew should:
- Discuss bird strikes during takeoff and approach briefings when operating at airports with known or suspected bird activity.
- Be extremely vigilant if birds are reported on final approach. If birds are expected on final approach, plan additional landing distance to account for the possibility of no thrust reverser use if a bird strike occurs.
The airport authorities use a number of techniques to manage the hazard of bird strike in and near airports. These include,
Elimination of bird habitats- Birds usually come to the airport area due to the availability of food sources. Denial of food to birds by eliminating the sources (like landfills, garbage, crops, dumps etc) will reduce the chance of birdstirke by eliminating the source.
It also helps to keep the airport and surrounding areas unattractive to birds (for example, by eliminating water stagnation, vegetation cover etc) as it prevents the birds from nesting there.
Scaring them away- A number of airports use a number of bird repellents like pyrotechnics, cannons (mostly just prior to aircraft approach to prevent bird habituation), chemical repellents etc.
In some cases, specially trained animals (like falcons, dogs etc) have been used to scare away the birds or they are trapped.
In some cases, the flight schedule can be altered if bird movement is expected in the area (for example, if the airport is on a bird migration route).
The problem can be solved by simply killing the birds in the area, though this drastic step is usually not implemented except in the most extreme cases. In general, the nesting sites of birds are destroyed to prevent them from staying permanently near the airport.
Usually, a combination of above methods is used to manage the birds.
The only procedure available for flight crews is to either delay the flight (or land in alternate runway if its available) in case birds are detected over an area. This however, is dependent on a number of variables like fuel availability, flight schedule etc. There are some radar systems under development that could detect birds; however, these have not reached operational stage yet.