Bird-Aircraft Strike Threat Assessment Using Avian Radar Information

Bird-aircraft collisions or bird strikes have been a major concern to aviation safety since the early days of aviation. The number of bird strikes has increased sharply over recent years and is expected to keep increasing in the United States (US) and perhaps throughout the world due to the increasing air traffic and bird population. More than 12,500 bird strikes occur every year to US civil and military aircraft, as reported in Richardson. Richardson's financial evaluation shows that bird strikes cost the U.S. commercial aviation over $600 million every year. Birds near the airport post serious threat to the aircraft. Statistical analyses in Transport Canada, Cleary et al. and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) show that about 91% of departure collisions and 83% of arrival collisions occur within 5 nautical miles (9260 meters) of the airport and 92% of all bird strikes happen below 3000 feet (914.4 meters) relative to ground level. Because there is no effective way to influence bird activity in the air, the only chance to minimize the threat of bird strikes is to avoid flying through regions with high bird density. Therefore, evaluating bird strike threats to aircraft near the airport is a very critical element in programs to reduce bird strikes. Bird strike threat is directly influenced by bird activity in terms of bird density (bird count/area), bird body mass, collision speed and flight direction as mentioned in Tedrow, Dolbeer and Transport Canada. Although the threat is generally assumed to be higher in areas where bird densities are high, the result may not be consistent with the assumption because of the area location (e.g. close to or far away from aircraft flight routes), bird species and bird flight behavior. Collision speed is important where more damage is likely at higher speeds, so collisions at higher altitude may be more damaging because speeds are greater. It is more meaningful to evaluate bird strike threat in some critical target areas inside and outside the airport where bird strikes mostly occur. Radar has been proven to be a useful and effective tool in bird movement study since the 1960s in Eastwood and Gauthreaux et al. With radar, information collected for a target can include velocity, heading direction, latitude, longitude and altitude. Radars function around the clock and operate effectively under poor hearing and viewing conditions. Advancement in radar and processing technology support analysis of bird movement dynamics. In this study, the authors use radar to collect bird activity data to further evaluate bird strike threats to aircraft operations at the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI), located in Oak Harbor, Washington. The overall wildlife management program at NASWI is designed to improve safety through bird hazard management. The NASWI installation has two sections: Ault Field, which is the focus of aircraft operations, and the Seaplane Base, which provides administration and housing support for NASWI staff. The threat analysis focuses on Ault field, located on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is a large water body connecting the Georgia Strait and Puget Sound to the Pacific Ocean. The geographical location of Ault Field is 48° 21' 8" N, 122° 39' 15" W. As shown in Figure 1, there are two runways that form an "X" pattern: runway7/25 is oriented east/west and runway 14/32 is oriented north west/southeast. There are also several taxiways connecting runways and the military aircraft ramp areas. The Strait attracts many seabirds, and there is a large bird community that includes raptors, passerines, and waterfowl in the area. The authors objective was to evaluate bird strike threat in critical target areas on and around Ault Field using a threat assessment model.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 12p
  • Monograph Title: 2010 FAA Worldwide Airport Technology Transfer Conference: Next Generation of Airport Technology

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01608329
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, ATRI, USDOT
  • Created Date: Aug 15 2016 1:06PM