Birdstrike Warning Systems Not Quite Ready Yet

 - June 4, 2009, 12:35 PM

Despite claims by one company that its system is ready for prime time, industry experts tell AIN that accurate radar birdstrike warning for pilots is similar to early TCAS development: technically feasible but requiring extensive testing and refinement before it can be certified and free of false alarms. Currently, the FAA’s center of excellence in airport technology at the University of Illinois is evaluating systems at several major airports and developing the national equipment standard. Dr. Tim Nohara, president of Canadian bird radar manufacturer Accipiter Radar of Fonthill, Ontario, said currently available systems would have been unable to provide accurate avoidance guidance to US Airways Flight 1549, since at 2,800 feet and three miles from La Guardia the geese it struck were too far away. “New antennas and associated technology should do it in a couple of years, but not today,” he said. According to Seattle SeaTac Airport senior wildlife biologist Steve Osmek, “Successful bird control depends on local knowledge. Here, radar monitoring of bird movements has been extremely valuable, and will definitely contribute to aviation safety.”