Wed, Jan 28, 2009
Bird Detectors Now In Use At SeaTac
While safety investigators and attorneys both have they're
reasons for looking back on the forced landing of US Airways Flight
1549, the FAA and wildlife biologists are looking ahead to a day
when technology might reduce the risk of bird strikes on
The Associated Press reports that inexpensive radar equipment
originally designed for marine use will be tested soon at a number
of US airports to see if it can play a useful role in tracking the
movements of flocks of birds.
The radar has shown itself capable of detecting bird movements
as far as six miles out from an airport. The challenge now is to
manage the echoes using computers to create a useful warning system
for air traffic controllers and perhaps, one day, pilots.
Aero-News recently talked with Steve Osmek, wildlife program
manager for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Osmek notes
SeaTac officials have been evaluating bird radar since mid-2007. A
third detector was deployed last week. Aimed at low, medium and
high angles, the three systems can help detect not only the heading
of a flock of birds, but altitude as well.
Chicago's O'Hare and Dallas-Fort Worth will both be equipped for
the test within three months.
With Flight 1549 still a fresh memory, the Port Authority of New
York and New Jersey last week asked the FAA to consider installing
the systems at all three of its major airports.
Osmek expects controllers may soon have information useful in
warning pilots about major flock movements. As for real-time,
in-cockpit warnings similar to current terrain and collision
avoidance systems, he cautions, "we're years off from that
You can listen to our two-part interview with Steve Osmek,
released January 22-23, at the FMI links below.
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