As congestion increases, avoiding collisions between aircraft and birds is becoming a more pressing issue. The Indian Air Force, which conducts many operational and training flights and often at very low level, attributes around 10 percent of accidents to bird hits. It took the lead last year by issuing global bids to four companies for 45 bird detection and monitoring radar systems (BDRS) to be installed at airports and air bases across India.
India’s civil and military aviation is hugely affected due to the absence of key infrastructure and with little control over abattoirs and rubbish dumps dotted on the outskirts of airports. “In the air, the speed of aircraft does not provide much time to the pilot or birds to effect any evasive action and since an avian radar has a range of almost 10 kilometers, the radar gives some lead time to the pilot to avoid bird strikes during the takeoff/landing/circuit flying stage,” S.M Satheesan, a consultant in aircraft bird strike prevention, told AIN.
Civil airports are also considering the acquisition of these radars to monitor and look for birds at their approach and takeoff funnel, and inform the pilots in advance to ensure action can be taken on time, said Bimal Sareen, managing director and CEO at AVAANA and director at OIS (Hall 5 Stand D281), one of the bidders for the IAF requirement. The OIS scanning multi-beam antenna, operating in marine X-band frequency, provides altitude, position and vector of the birdsover a 12-kilometer diameter circular region reaching 1,000 meters in altitude over the runway itself, and up to 2,000 meters at the extreme range limits to the air traffic controllers. “The system can detect a small bird (equivalent of SAT 1 defined by FAA) up to a distance of six kilometers,” said Sareen. Netherlands-Robin Radars, Merlin Radars and Canada’s Accipiter are also believed to be in discussions about supplying avian radars to India.
With most airports having a large number of nocturnal bird strikes (30 percent of total incidents), this makes it a compelling reason to procure avian radars, said Satheesan. He cited an instance of a multiple flamingo strike on a SpiceJet aircraft in 2007 at night at 1,000 feet in the climb out at Delhi airport. “Avian radar could have detected the presence of the large flocking water birds much in advance and averted the mishap by delaying takeoff to prevent loss of more than $200,000 to the airline operator, and grounding of the aircraft,” he said.
An avian radar system tracks birds or other airborne targets within its 3-D surveillance volume, characterized by a cylinder with an approximate range up to 10 kilometers and up to 10,000-foot altitude above ground level. Special scanning methods form 3-D target trajectories using track data and volume-revisit times. Regular updates provide situational awareness of developing hazards, allowing operators to take action.
“Avian radars can [also] help learn about bird migration if your airport or country lies in a migration corridor and can be used for homeland security as well. If shared by various agencies [Civil airport, Defense airport, Army, Border Security Force, Coast Guard and Navy, Environment and Forest Ministry] you get the value for your money,” concluded Satheesan.