East Hampton Airport breeds 200,000 honeybees inside its fences
Brussels uses a Drone with Predator Bird sounds to keep birds from jets
Martha’s Vineyard may add charging station for electric planes and cars
An airport is a complex infrastructure machine. The airlines that fly to and from these designated lands, carved up by taxiways and runways, capture much of the news. Here is a space, possibly reoccurring, delivering news about these safety, economic, environmental, commercial and transportation engines for which the JDA team, in particular our lead Airport SME, Cynthia Schultz, is a proven source of smart answers.
The East Hampton Airport (HTO) is buzzing — and for once, that’s a good thing.
The complaint-plagued facility is the new home of some 200,000 endangered honeybees, living in six thriving hives on the property.
But now HTO has a different kind of VIP.
Chris Kelly of Promise Land Apiaries set up the hives at the far end of a runway, in a wooded area flush with trees, wildflowers and blueberry bushes about 3/4 of a mile from the terminal.
“Six hundred acres is a lot of open land for the bees to forage in, and my expectation of success has been confirmed by both the volume of honey collected and the growth of the hives,” said Kelly.
Kelly first installed five hives with approximately 10,000 bees each, but they’ve prospered so much the number has become more like 30,000 per hive. One hive grew so quickly that a second queen left to establish a new home on a nearby tree branch, which Kelly transferred into a sixth hive.
And he said there’s no danger of the pollinators swarming planes.
“They’re nowhere near the planes taking off,” Kelly said.
Ruggerio expects to organize an “educational day” at the airport soon, having recently bought “a ton of bee suits” for visitors. There are also plans for a “bee cam,” so passengers in the terminal can watch the insects, and a “Honey Harvest Festival” over Columbus Day weekend
Always innovative when it comes to looking at problems from another angle, the operators of Brussels Airport (BRU) are testing drones to scare away birds. Located 7.5 miles northeast of the Belgian capital, Brussels Airport and its three runways are surrounded by farms.
Because the farmland attracts birds looking for food, birds gathering next to the runways present a danger to aircraft. Should the birds take off en masse, there is always the danger of them getting sucked into an engine and causing a catastrophic failure. If this were to happen, it could prove deadly for all the people on the plane.
Airports and drones don’t go together
Usually, when we see the words drone and airport mentioned in the same sentence, it is never good! Airports ban the use of drones close to them as they believe they are a danger to aircraft. However, tests show that when experts fly drones in carefully controlled conditions, they can benefit airport operations.
Currently, Brussels Airport has a special Bird Control Unit that drives around the runways and surrounding area to scare away birds from runways where a plane is landing or taking off.
Last Thursday, Brussels Airport teamed up with telecom service provider Citymesh to see if scaring the birds away by flying a drone would work. One of the advantages the drone has over the car is that it can access areas where the vehicle can’t go. It can also be used to monitor the gathering of birds and disperse them if necessary.
A speaker on the drone makes it sound like a bird of prey
Brussels Airport says that the drone has a unique built-in speaker that can replicate the sounds a bird of prey makes. Emitting the sounds of a bird of prey acts as a natural deterrent keeping birds away from aircraft operations.
According to the airport, the goal of the tests is to evaluate the possibilities of the drones to see if they can increase efficiency and are safe to use. In its statement Brussels Airport said:
“The drone is used during normal operations and only operates at a safe distance of the aircraft and in between the takeoff and landing of aircraft.” Adding, “These tests will not impact airport operations and runway use.”
If flown by a professional drone pilot who knows where the birds like to gather, this could be a great way to control birds at airports. Ideally, Brussels Airport will train its current Bird Unit members to operate the drones as they already know the terrain.
Martha’s Vineyard Airport is looking at potentially installing support infrastructure for electric aircraft and ground transportation.
At Thursday’s meeting of the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission (MVAC), airport director Geoff Freeman said all aspects of sustainable electric technology are being considered so that the airport can remain at the forefront of environmentally conscious innovation.
Freeman said airport officials are in discussion with Sam Hobbs of Beta Aircraft and Aviation Technologies, an aircraft manufacturer and infrastructure company with an expansive network of charging systems spanning the Eastern half of the country.
Hobbs said the company is in the middle of developing its new Alia aircraft. Comparable to a Cessna Caravan in size and wingspan, the fully electric plane can fly with wings or with lift rotor props, enabling it to take off and land vertically and then transition to long-range flight.
The Alia is being developed and tested in tandem with a network of electric aircraft charging ports, not just to support Beta’s aircraft, but to fuel the electric plane industry at large, according to Hobbs.
“We are doing everything we can not to be proprietary, and are working with a number of groups to provide the right protocols that support the most aircraft,” Hobbs said.
As the infrastructure exists currently, two refrigerator-size converters that change alternating current from the grid into fast-charging direct current are stationed near the payment and charging kiosks.
According to Hobbs, the airport wouldn’t have to spend time working with the utility company, and Beta would handle all the organizational aspects of connecting the infrastructure to the grid.
“We need three-phase 1,200-amp service with 480 volts. We set all that up. Beta not only pays for this infrastructure, but we organize the work with the utilities. It’s about trying to make it as low a lift as possible for the airport,” Hobbs said.
Commissioner Kristen Zern wondered if the electric aircraft that Cape Air decides to utilize in its fleet would be compatible with these charging systems.
Hobbs said Beta hopes to cover whatever Cape Air implements, and the company can work with the airport in the future to decide how to accommodate any specific kind of charging technology.
Commissioner Jack Ensor asked about how solar projects on the Island could work in concert with any electric charging going on at the airport. “How would the tech work behind the meter? If there is power produced here, instead of pulling power through the cables, is that something we could utilize?” Ensor asked
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