The World Birdstrike Association (formerly known as the International Bird Strike Committee) is the worldwide catalyst for improving flight safety by reducing the risks of bird (and other wildlife) strikes with aircraft in a cost-effective way. They believe that this reduction will be achieved by encouraging and facilitating communication and collaboration amongst all stakeholders on a global, regional and national level.
At present, many organisations around the world are working independently towards preventing collisions between aircraft (civil and military) with birds and other wildlife. An effective coordination between global stakeholders has yet to be established. This hampers a consensus view and understanding of the hazard and the flight safety risk posed to aircraft operations, as well as for the wildlife concerned. Therefore, the World Birdstrike Association is convening a kick-off meeting for its initiative of getting the stakeholders to work together in developing a Joint Global Action Plan on the reduction of the birdstrike risk to aviation. The World Birdstrike Association aims to be the catalyst to harmonise and coordinate this. This Joint Global Action Plan will not attempt to reinvent the wheel but to build and strengthen stakeholder relationships and establish conversations that will lead to enhancing safety performance.
New anti-bird strike grass attracting world interest
Two new grasses developed by AgResearch scientists to reduce the risk bird strike around airports and insect damage at sports grounds are starting to attract serious international interest. The grasses contain a special endophyte, or natural fungus that makes them unpalatable to insects and birds. Bird strikes at airports cost the aviation industry more than a billion dollars a year in damage to aircraft and in deterrence measures. Trials of a grass developed specifically for use at airports have shown it can significantly reduce the number of birds in areas where it’s grown.
Sam Livesey, of Grasslanz Technology, which has commercialised the grasses, said airport representatives as well as turf specialists from Europe, North America, China and Australia who came to New Zealand to check the new grasses recently, are now keen to try them out. He said the company is now in the process of setting up large scale trials potentially looking at JFK Airport in the United States, as well as Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick airports in England. Mr Livesey said Melbourne airport already has a small area sown in the bird-deterrent grass and is looking to increase that.
Field visit to Waterkloof Air Force Base
The South African Air Force (SAAF) approached the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) to recommend what dog breed they should implement to aid the current Border Collie “Frost” in chasing birds off the aerodrome, thus reducing the possibility of a birdstrike. Choosing a breed to work effectively at an airport is not as easy as it seems, we have to take into account what environment the dog will be working in in order to make sure the dog will be as effective as possible.
The EWT has been implementing and monitoring Bird Control Dogs at airports in South Africa for over a decade in order to reduce the frequency of bird strikes at their airports. The project involves the use of Bird Control Dogs to scare birds away from the airfield. Birds that frequent the airports become used to loud noise and so are not frightened away by the normal sounds of the airfield. Dogs, however, are perceived as a natural predator and the birds remain fearful of their presence. Instead of enduring the constant harassment of the dogs on the airfield, the birds seek foraging elsewhere and are unlikely to return to the airport in the short to medium term.
The first dog was implemented in April 2002 when Mac started work at Durban International Airport. He was the first Border Collie to be used as a bird control dog – not only in South Africa but in the southern hemisphere. Mac’s implementation was shortly followed by Tweeny who started work at O.R. Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) in July 2002. A new breed was implemented at (ORTIA) in January 2012 with the introduction of Chase, a Springer Spaniel. Whilst the Border Collies have been extremely successful in the past, Springer Spaniels potentially bring a new dimension to the initiative. Border Collies are effective in line of sight chases, whilst Springer Spaniels are effective in longer grass where birds aren’t readily visible, and are able to flush them out. There are currently eight canines based at airports across South Africa. These dogs have tirelessly been keeping birds away from the airfield for over ten years, ensuring safe passage to all flying to, and from, these busy airports.