UK Bird Strike Case Study
23 May 2017
“The civil and military aviation communities continue to understand that the threat from aircraft collisions with wildlife is real and increasing. Globally, wildlife strikes have killed more than 262 people and destroyed over 247 aircraft since 1988. Factors that contribute to this increasing threat are increasing populations of large birds and increased air traffic by quieter, turbofan-powered aircraft.”1
According to the CAA there were 7,672 reported confirmed bird strikes in the UK between 2011 and 2015 with a 14% increase between 2011 and 2015 on all confirmed, near miss and unconfirmed reported bird strikes (CAA, 2015)2. With this in mind it’s clearly a problem that won’t be solved quickly or easily despite the increased awareness and efforts from UK airports and pressure from airlines to reduce the number of bird strikes on their aircraft.
Although only 6% of reported bird strikes between 2011 and 2015 in the UK had an operational impact, such as an aborted take-off or return/ diversion, bird strikes are estimated to cost up to £1 billion every year globally (Allan, 2000)3. The UK is ranked 3rd in the world after US and China for the number of air passengers (2015)4 and is therefore a huge stakeholder in the monetary and safety implications of bird strikes.
It’s clear from reported bird strike statistics that most strikes occur at low level (under 1500ft) with approximately 60% of bird strikes with civil aircraft in the US occurring during landing phases of flight (descent, approach and landing roll) and 37% occurring during take-off run and climb (FAA, 2015)5. The CAA reported similar figures based solely on UK reported bird strikes, where the altitude of the strike was identified, 83% occurred under 200ft on landing or under 500ft on take-off (CAA, 2015)6.
Importantly this shows that whilst bird strikes are a large and seemingly growing issue in the UK, they are mostly restrained to the airports immediate vicinity. This unfortunately puts the pressure and responsibility on the airports themselves however this does allow for a wide range of methods to be implemented to mitigate bird strike risk.
The CAA7 suggests airport bird control risk mitigation measures in which they recommend and promote on-airfield bird control programmes to reduce bird populations in the vicinity of airfields. Whilst they recognise many airfields already have effective programmes, they believe this should be introduced as standard globally. In addition to this, the CAA7 regard frequent bird patrols and the use of bird scaring and dispersal techniques as essential to back up the longer term measures.
Given these views from the CAA, it is important that an overall wildlife management strategy is implemented across all airfields to include both long term preventative measures but also reactive deterrence and dispersal of wildlife.
Primetake work with and supply a number of airport wildlife management specialists, for example North West Bird Control8 in the UK, who offer the full implementation of on-going wildlife management for both the long term and day-to-day dispersal. The Primetake 12 Gauge bird scaring cartridges supplied are an effective and rapidly deployable solution for bird dispersal and remain to be a safe, reliable and non-lethal method.9
These cartridges are available through a number of wildlife management specialists and other distributors10 as well as direct from Primetake and offer a cost effective, rapid deployment bird dispersal method to ultimately reduce bird strike risk on a day-to-day basis. Primetake Bird Scaring cartridges are already in use and relied upon today in excess of 80 International airports across the UK, Europe and the rest of The World.