FAA Issues Advisory Circular for Bird Tracking Radar

 - August 31, 2010, 12:57 PM

Bird strikes are as old as aviation itself, with the Wright brothers reporting the first such hit during an early test flight. Today, aircraft bird strikes are relatively common, but thankfully rarely fatal. However, they do routinely result in costly aircraft damage. In a step to reduce bird strike risks, the FAA published a draft Advisory Circular that provides guidance to airports on using radar to supplement their wildlife mitigation programs. With 24/365 diurnal and seasonal radar records of bird species, populations and flight patterns, specialists can accurately assess local hazard periods. But controller warnings of “Canada geese at 10 o’clock” or urgent “Break right, pelicans!” are still years away, due to aircraft speeds and unpredictable bird flight paths. Bird-tracking radar investigations began in the 1990s. Today, under a joint program of the FAA’s Atlantic City Technical Center and the agency's center of excellence in airport technology at the University of Illinois, avian radar systems are under detailed evaluation at Seattle, Chicago O'Hare, New York JFK and Dallas/Fort Worth Airports. The FAA’s AC is the precursor to expected nationwide installations of bird-radar systems.