Large flocks of birds around many Indian airports continue to threaten aircraft that are constantly under threat of strikes particularly during takeoff and landing. Data compiled by Airports Authority of India for Chennai International Airport, for example, shows bird strikes increased from 38 in 2012 to 50 in 2013.
The problem affects military operations as well, and in an attempt to deal with it, the Indian Air Force has issued a bid for 45 3-D bird-detection radars for military airports. Trials have been completed and commercial bids are set to open this year. This is also expected to set the trend for procurement by civil airports facing the menace.
Delhi-based company OIS, one of the three vendors participating in the IAF tender, is offering its indigenous 3-D bird radar, which provides information to air traffic controllers on simultaneous altitude, position and vectors of birds in the vicinity. The X-band radar provides a 360-degree view of birds at a maximum detection range of almost seven miles for a large bird and four miles for a smaller bird (with a length of just over eight inches) up to a maximum altitude of 10,000 feet. According to the company, use of X band minimizes interference with existing radar airport systems, and just one radar is sufficient for multiple runways.
The bird radar data can be archived and imaged on a web site of the customer’s choice, OIS director Bimal Sareen told AIN. Interest from civilian airports in Southeast Asian countries will open export opportunities, he said. Aiming to “become part of the OEM global supply chain,” OIS is looking to manufacture aerospace components, “where we can leverage market demand that also involves [defense] offsets,” Sareen added.
It is apparent that bird-tracking radars also will benefit general aviation. The U.S. FAA, for example, encourages GA airports to conduct wildlife hazard assessments to determine what mitigation is needed with respect to wildlife. Recently, the agency announced it would support GA airports by making Airport Improvement Program grants available to conduct such assessments.
Looking at a capability of integrating the radar with automatic bird-deterring devices based on sound and light beams, Sareen said the company is considering the next step in deterrence, that of dispersing birds using lasers “in a humane way.”
In another news, OIS has announced an exclusive relationship with Magnaghi Aeronautica of Italy for the all-composite, high-wing tandem SkyArrow light aircraft, which is powered by a Rotax 912S. The company will market, supply and maintain SkyArrow platforms for the Indian market, a cost-effective solution for a large number of sensory-based missions as it offers flexibility in terms of payloads, which can be interchanged on the same vehicle. “A market is emerging in India for crop dusting, surveillance and maintenance,” said Sareen.