Wildlife was there 1st Aviation has the burden to protect against damage
FAA and USDA have data on the costs of the damage from these hazards
NC DOT Aviation shares its Program and there are many remedial airport specific plans
North Carolina’s DoT Aviation Division just announced a program to help airports to mitigate wildlife hazards. There are good reasons for airports and their users to take affirmative actions to protect birds and animal denizens.
- Birds and wildlife were there before airplanes by many millennia and their habitation in the air and on what is now runways qualifies as adverse possession of these spaces. At worst that solid ownership mandates that the subsequent users owe the original occupants a high duty to protect them.
- Estimates suggest that wildlife strikes cost the civil aviation industry in the U.S. up to $625 million annually, and nearly 500 people have been killed in wildlife strikes worldwide. Most wildlife strikes occur in the airport environment: 72 percent of all strikes occur when the aircraft is ≤500 ft (152 m) above ground level, and 41 percent of strikes occur when the aircraft is on the ground during landing or takeoff. Wildlife Damage Management Technical Series.
With both moral and economic justifications, airports can make a strong justification to add to their wildlife mitigation budgets.
The numbers case can be easily made using the FAA’s existing Wildlife Hazard Mitigation web page:
- Wildlife Hazard Mitigation
With such a wide variety of flora and fauna, the preventative actions are seemingly infinite. The USDA Wildlife Services can help define a plan appropriate for each airport’s unique ecology. Here are a few examples of specific remediation tactics:
- MAY 11, 2021 USDA Announces A Test Of New Tactic To Reduce WILDLIFE Risk At Your Airport-AVIATION SAFETY
- APRIL 11, 2021 ERAU Studies Wildlife At Airports With UASs
- MARCH 16, 2021 Reduction Of Risk Of Wildlife Loss- What Are The Numbers ?
- AUGUST 28, 2018 A Bird In A USDA Net May Save Lives: Wildlife Management At Airports
- JULY 9, 2014 ACRP’s Reports Saves Wildlife And Adds To Airport Safety
- AUGUST 13, 2014 Dayton Airport Experiments With Natural Barriers To Wildlife: Great Aviation Safety Gain?
Wildlife strike aircraft on average once a day at airports across North Carolina.
RALEIGH – North Carolina airports report that birds and other wildlife strike aircraft an average of once a day. A wildlife hazard mitigation program operated by the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation aims to reduce the risk of wildlife hazards by providing training and support.
“Flocks of birds taking flight, deer crossing runways and other such hazards can cause serious damage to property and even loss of life. Our program focuses on reducing that risk and increasing safety for aircraft that fly in and out of airports across our state,” said Division of Aviation Statewide Program Manager Rajendra Kondapalli.
The Federal Aviation Administration Wildlife Strike Database, which tracks wildlife strikes, estimates that only one in five strikes are reported, which adds up to a significant threat to property and life. A 2018 aircraft landing at a general aviation airport, for instance, sustained more than $800,000 in damage when it struck two of six white-tailed deer crossing the runway.
The wildlife program, offered through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, provides five regional trainings and assessments of one-third of the state’s 72 public airports each year. It also provides “quick-response”, direct management activities for airports experiencing wildlife hazards.
The quick response program provides both proactive and reactive management such as harassing geese, gulls, raptors and other birds using pyrotechnics, habitat management and, if warranted, lethal control. The USDA may live trap and relocate hazardous raptors such as hawks and falcons to suitable habitats miles away from the airport.
Trainings provide instruction and hands-on practice identifying common animal species, potential habitats and food sources that attract animals to airports and methods to safely deter wildlife from interfering with airport operations.
“These trainings are very important because they help the airports better understand the hazards on their airfields and what they can do to mitigate them, short-term and long-term,” said Chris Willis, western district supervisor for the USDA Wildlife Services in North Carolina, who provides the training. “It also helps the Division of Aviation understand the needs the airport may have or what hazards exist.”
Trainings have already been completed this fiscal year at Kinston Regional Airport and Smith Reynolds Airport, as well as one virtual training offered. The next two training events will be held May 18 at the Rocky-Mount Wilson Regional Airport and July 13 at the Hickory Regional Airport.
The wildlife management assessments offered through the program include an airport site visit to conduct a bird and mammal hazard survey and an assessment report with wildlife observations, habitat attractants and mitigation recommendations based on USDA’s observations. This can range from proper grass height, tree removal, proper fencing and agriculture near the airfield.
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