THE BIRDSTRIKE PHENOMENON TAKES ADVANTAGE OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, WHICH INNOVATES THE WHOLE AIRPORT SECTOR IN SAFETY AND SECURITY
- Birdstrike: the collision between airplanes and birds;
- How to keep birds away from airports;
- The establishment of BCUs to monitor avifauna;
- The most effective method to remove birds: danger calls;
- Pandemic and lockdown have increased the presence of birds at airports;
- Are there technologies that can preserve birds and people from birdstrike?
- BCMS® VENTUR is a necessary system to counter growing;
- Sustainability and respect for the environment in the fight against bird strike;
Birdstrike: the collision between airplanes and birds
The phenomenon of birdstrike was born together with aviation. The first collision between aircraft and birds was made by one of the Wright brothers in 1910 at the dawn of flight. Since then it is counted that more than 250 airplanes have been seriously damaged or crashed because of this phenomenon, while the victims have been about 350 in the last 40 years.
For many years, bird strikes have been a greatly underestimated danger, but today, thanks also to a decisive legislative (both in Italy and in the rest of the world) and judicial intervention, the situation has radically changed: in Italy, but not only there, it is the airport operator who is jointly and severally liable for the damages that an impact can cause to an aircraft. There is no airport in Italy or in the world that does not have an ongoing program aimed at reducing the risk of birdstrike.
But much remains to be done as the problem is not at all easy to solve, and it should be emphasized. Yes, but why are we talking about airports? Birds fly everywhere, don’t they?
Well, actually, birds fly below a certain height, that is below 300 feet – luckily there are only a few Jonathan Livingston Seagulls – and 300 feet is the altitude at which a plane takes off and lands, the most delicate phases.
Airports are also ideal places for birds to eat and refresh themselves, especially because they are usually built near landfills (where birds find plenty of food) or near marshes or the sea, which are always attractive sources for birds, especially for migrating species.
And then, as we know, birds know no boundaries and their behavior, even if it can be habitual, is not predictable at all.
The establishment of BCUs to monitor avifauna
BCUs are groups of people who walk around the airport grounds equipped with binoculars and do fairly precise monitoring to know which and how many species are present at a given airport. An analysis, now compulsory by law, to establish then an effective method of removal, even if up to now there is not a unique and universally adopted method.
Pandemic and lockdown have increased the presence of birds at airports
During the first wave of the Covid-19 virus, civil flights were practically zero, and there was a drop in air traffic of about 80%, with only commercial flights to bring medical supplies and humanitarian flights to repatriate compatriots remaining active.
In Italy many airports have been practically closed, and every activity has been suspended, even the removal of wildlife. This resulted in the following period in a surge of accidents caused by impacts between birds and aircrafts.
A predictable event, since wild boars and deer had arrived in the city parks of Milan and Rome (here the wild boars can still be seen!), the most obvious thing was a mass return of the birds to the airports, since they have always been a source of attraction for them.
The monitoring of the areas of interest is therefore an indispensable method because in order to keep unwanted wildlife away, it is necessary to know what kind of wildlife it is and when it is in the area of interest.
Birdstrike is on the rise both because there are more and more aircraft in the skies and because there are many more birds of those species that like to stay at airports.
The herring gull population, for example, has more than doubled since 1980 to about 60,000, while the number of birdstrikes in Italy alone has increased from 348 in 2002 to 1084 in 2015. The effect of the impact, as is obvious, also depends on the size of the animal with which the aircraft collides.
The most dangerous birds are geese. Canadian geese are acclimatized to live near airports and are also responsible for the most famous accident of the last 20 years: the US Airways flight #1549 piloted by Chesley Sully Sullisberger that ditched in the Hudson in January 2009 following an impact with a flock of Canadian geese that compromised the functionality of both engines.
A sporadic episode? Not at all.
According to the FAA, the Federal Aviation Administration, 15% of the impacts have serious consequences on the aircraft, and in general even those that appear to be of minor importance involve long inspections of the aircraft, delays and cancellations with a direct impact on the airlines that should be the first to want to demand high safety standards based on the most modern technologies.
It has been calculated that a collision with a bird weighing about 5 kg at 240 km/h (which is the speed of an aircraft during landing) is equivalent to a weight of half a ton dropped from 3 meters. As you can understand, the effect can really be devastating for an airplane, even though it is subjected to tough resistance tests: for example, the Franco-German manufacturer Airbus throws frozen chickens on the engines to verify their resistance to impact.