General Aviation Research
Airport Wildlife Hazard Mitigation
Web site helps keep planes and birds apart
- Airport planners were unable to develop strategies to deal with wildlife interference with airplanes, because they lacked information about how widespread these problems were.
- Researchers at Embry-Riddle's Prescott, Ariz., campus have developed and maintain a Web site for collecting and disseminating data about these incidents.
- Since the Wright brothers' days, conflicts between wildlife and airplanes have caused damage to aircraft and sometimes loss of human life. An estimated 75 percent of all civil aviation air strikes occur near airports. Over $300 million dollars annually is lost due to wildlife strikes in the United States alone.
- In recent years, due to an increase in passenger traffic, the introduction of quieter engines on newer planes, and a growing wildlife population, the probability of wildlife strikes has risen dramatically. Furthermore, many modern airports are surrounded by natural habitat where wildlife find shelter, nesting, and food that are not usually present in a nearby metropolitan area.
- The Airport Wildlife Hazard Mitigation Web site allows personnel at airports around the country to file online reports of wildlife strikes at their facilities. At many airports, these are daily occurrences, particularly involving birds. The site also shares information that helps users better understand and practice wildlife hazard mitigation at airports through wildlife control.
- Researchers created the Web site under contract from the Federal Aviation Administration's William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, N.J.
- The site was established in 1999, and a national database of wildlife-aircraft collisions went online in 2002. Since the Web site was created, reports of incidents have increased by 6 percent.
- The researchers now are working to add a graphic interface that shows all wildlife strikes on a map of the United States and allows users to get detailed information for each state. This interface will help analysts to identify strike patterns involving variables such as species, seasons, and migrations.
- The Web site allows specialists studying this problem to share information and solutions with each other. It has become a tool used by airport operators, biologists, and engineers to design airport procedures, aircraft, and environmental policies that reduce or eliminate the dangers to wildlife and people.
Valuable tool for airports and wildlife biologists
The Web site's resources include:
- Habitat studies of problem species such as black birds, birds of prey, rodents, and large mammals
- Methods of detecting wildlife at critical times of the year
- Techniques for managing wildlife at airports
- Tools for predicting wildlife strikes using integrated information collected regionally and nationally about factors such as migratory paths.
Archie Dickey, chairman and associate professor of global studies, is principal investigator for the project. Allen Newman, assistant professor of computer science, is the Webmaster.