Date: May 6, 2016
Source: University of Exeter
Introducing a noise net around airfields that emits sound levels equivalent to those of a conversation in a busy restaurant could prevent collisions between birds and aircraft, saving passenger lives and billions in damages, new research has found.
A study published in Ecological Applications led by Professor John Swaddle, visiting Research Associate at the University of Exeter, found that filling a controlled area with acoustic noise around an airfield, where the majority of collisions tend to take place, can reduce the number of birds in the area by 80 per cent.
Bird strikes cost the aviation industry worldwide billions of pounds annually, $937 million in the US alone, and were responsible for 255 deaths between 1988 and 2013, yet measures to reduce these have been largely ineffective. Collisions also pose a threat to resident and migratory birds as they often find the habitat around airports such as wetlands and open fields attractive.
Techniques to deter birds from airports include shooting, poisoning, live-capture and relocation, and the use of scare technologies, but these have proved largely ineffective. Professor Swaddle and his team believe they have found a benign and relatively cost effective solution to the problem by emitting 24- hour noise in the area to interrupt bird communication.
The researchers set up speakers and amplifiers in three areas of an airfield in Virginia USA and observed bird abundance over eight weeks, the first four weeks without noise and the second four weeks with the noise turned on.