Big data is helping Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport lower the risk of bird strike, adding to patrols and barriers set up to protect airplanes from dangerous collisions with animals.
Birds and other flying creatures pose a significant danger to aircraft, particularly during takeoff and landing, as they are more likely to encounter animals at lower altitudes.
Damage caused by bird strikes varies depending on the size of the aircraft and location of impact, but can lead to fatal consequences.
Photo courtesy of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Co
The airport has over the past few years adopted a number of strategies to secure its airspace to great effect.
Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Co on Tuesday said that air traffic has decreased significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the airport seeing nearly 300 arrivals and departures per day.
The number of bird strikes has dropped accordingly, extending its downward trend from 39 strikes in 2018 and 23 in 2019 to only five last year, company data showed.
The firm had received an award for excellence in preventing bird strikes, as it had recorded a lower strike rate than targeted from 2017 to last year.
However, the trend seems to be reversing.
Although the number of flights over the first nine months was down 16 percent from the same period last year, the number of bird strikes was up slightly from the average, the company said.
This is due mainly to the area around the airport being a breeding and roosting ground for birds, it said, adding that the breeding season of many local species fell within the first half of the year.
To better understand their habits, the airport operator said it has been working with the Wild Bird Society of Taoyuan to set up a database with observations and other records.
Based on the data, the company would create monthly bird activity forecasts to inform professionals at the airport about which species might fly a certain altitudes at certain times, it said.
The company said that it is also seeking to make the airport grounds less attractive to birds by removing areas where they might roost as well as find water and food.
In August the firm started an initiative that surveys insect populations to better understand the birds’ food sources and general ecology of the area, it added.
Siren, buzzer and gun sounds are also employed to drive birds away during times of peak activity from 6am to 8am and 4pm to 6pm every day, the company said.
If a flock suddenly descends on a runway, it might be temporarily closed until they can be driven off, it added.
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