Reducing Bird Strikes at the Airport

General Sep 27, 2010

“Hit birds. We’ve lost thrust on both engines.” That was the radio transmission from US Airways Flight 1549 on January 15, 2009.

It was a bird strike. The Airbus A320 hit a flock of birds a mere two minutes after takeoff, forcing the pilot to land it in the Hudson. Unfortunately, it’s not an unusual occurrence. The Federal Aviation Administration reports that civilian aircraft suffer more than 20 bird strikes per day, a number that’s growing at an alarming rate. In fact, there’s been a 300 percent increase in the last 20 years.

Why do birds love airports so much? Storm water detention ponds look like Club Med to birds – providing food, shelter and safety from predators. Reducing bird strikes has become a top priority for the FAA and the agency has turned to Auburn for help.

Auburn researchers are designing a prototype detention pond that treats common airport pollutants – fuel, oil and de-icing fluid – while decreasing elements that attract birds. More than 10,000 data points gathered over three years at 40 different detention ponds will result in a practical design. Once complete, Auburn researchers will test their design with the same attention to detail before making a recommendation to the FAA.

The knowledge that Auburn creates and the work that its researchers do will make every flight a little bit safer.

Principal Investigators

Dr. Jim Armstrong

School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
My expertise and research interest are centered around wildlife damage management and human dimension in wildlife management. In Alabama, wildlife damage issues are as varied as deer eating ornamental plantings around a house to coyotes killing livestock, bats in the attic to lizards in the kitchen. Any or all of these problems may seem trivial or insignificant to one person yet extremely traumatic to another individual. Human dimensions research involves applied and theoretical concepts concerning measurement of peoples’ knowledge, beliefs, values and attitudes about wildlife management issues.

Dr. Kyung Yoo

Department of Biosystems Engineering
Research Interests

Soil erosion prediction and control, agricultural watershed/water quality modeling, small scale irrigation, water resources for rural development, roof catchment of rainwater, airport detention ponds and bird strikes

Dr. Claude E. Boyd

Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture
Research Interests

Limnology and Water Quality in Aquaculture: Research has focused on water quality and water supply in aquaculture. In recent years, the emphasis has shifted some to include aquacultural environmental issues.

Dr. Latif Kalin

Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture
Research Interests

Urbanization Impacts on Hydrology and Water Quality, Watershed Hydrology, Uncertainty/Sensitivity Analysis and Scale Impacts, Erosion and Sediment Transport, Water Quality and Hydrologic Modeling, Nutrient Cycling in Bottom Sediments, wetland nutrients cycling

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