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Wildlife Hazard Mitigation Requirements and Programs

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 139 establishes requires commercial service airports to maintain a safe operation. This includes conducting wildlife Hazard Assessments and preparing a Wildlife Hazard Management Plan, if necessary.

Wildlife Hazard Mitigation Requirements

Airports sponsors are responsible for ensuring their airport maintains a safe operating environment, Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 139.

  • Part 139.337 requires an airport to conduct a wildlife hazard assessment
  • An air carrier experiences multiple wildlife strikes
  • An air carrier experiences substantial damage from striking wildlife
  • An air carrier experiences engine ingestion of wildlife

Wildlife Assessment

As specified in Advisory Circular (AC) 150/5200-33B, section 1-4, requires consideration of wildlife attractants within 10,000 feet of the airport. It also recommends consideration of wildlife attractants out to five statute (statute mile is 5,280 feet) miles of the airport if the attractant could cause hazardous wildlife movement into or across the approach or departure airspace. The assessment considers:

  • An analysis of events prompting the assessment
  • Identification of wildlife species, observed and their numbers, locations, and local movements
  • Identification of features on or near the airport that attract wildlife
  • A description of the wildlife hazards to air carrier operations
  • Recommended actions for reducing wildlife hazards to air carrier operations
  • Identification of the species, numbers, locations, local movements, and airport features that attract wildlifeThe Wildlife assessment is submitted to FAA. FAA determines if the airport needs to follow up and develop a Wildlife Hazard Management Plan

Wildlife Hazard Management Plan

AC 150/5200-33B – Hazardous Wildlife Attractants on or Near Airports and the FAA Airports Wildlife Manual provides guidance on what should be in the Wildlife Hazard Management Plan

The plan should:

  • Provide measures to alleviate or eliminate wildlife hazards
  • Identify persons who have authority for implementing the plan
  • Priorities for needed habitat modification
  • Identification of resources for the plan
  • Procedures to be followed during air carrier operations
  • Wildlife control measures

Typical Wildlife Mitigation Techniques

Habitat Modification

  • Fill in ponds and water sources, if practicable
  • Control vegetation (cut grass high or low depending upon bird species)

Wildlife Harassment Tools

  • Air guns
  • Lasers
  • Dogs
  • Wildlife patrols
  • Trapping and removing
  • Shooting if necessary and with required permits

FAA Bird Strike Database

Since 1990, the FAA has collected voluntary bird strike reports and maintained a bird strike database.

The database is managed by Wildlife Services Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture under terms of an interagency agreement with FAA.

Strike reports are sent to Wildlife Services where they are edited and entered into the database.

Embry-Riddle University maintains the public FAA website for the bird strike data.

Currently the database has 106,604 records from January 1990 through August 2008. The increasing number of bird strikes is a combination of better reporting and increasing bird populations.

The database is available to airport operators and safety analysts and is extremely useful for which species are most involved in strikes, seasonal patterns, and extent and type of damage from strikes.

The FAA has contracted with the Smithsonian Institute to analyze bird remains in their feather laboratory to determine the species. Several years ago, the FAA purchased a DNA analyzer to improve the capability of the laboratory. Airports can mail small remains from bird strikes to the feather laboratory at the Smithsonian. The laboratory analyzes the remains to determine the species of bird. The species information is returned to the airport and the FAA. Species information is useful for the airports to consider appropriate mitigation measures.

FAA provides $265,000 per year from AIP Administrative funds to maintain the bird strike database, the web site, and the feather identification at the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian portion is about $80,000.

FAA Wildlife Hazard Mitigation Research Program

The FAA wildlife research funding (in thousands of dollars) history is:

Wildlife Research Funding (in thousands of dollars)
600 500 500 500 520 500 500 1,500 2,500 2,500 2,500

The wildlife research is conducted by FAA Technical Center at Atlantic City, U. S. Department of Agriculture National Wildlife Research Facility, Sandusky Ohio, and University of Illinois Center of Excellence in Airport Technology. Wildlife research falls into the following categories:

Habitat Modification

  • Grass height studies. What grass height detracts birds feeding
  • Grass type studies. Some grass types are not preferred by birds
  • Completed vegetation study at JFK that resulted in new vegetation management plan implemented in 2000
  • Undertook three year bird-grass height study in eight fields at the Wildlife Research Facility in Ohio
  • Undertook three year study of vegetation types on six airports in Washington to reduce bird and rodent populations
  • Artificial turf
  • Earthworm control
  • Rodent control
  • Landfill control techniques

Harassment Techniques

  • Air cannons
  • Lasers to scare birds of ponds and lakes
  • Dogs to harass birds
  • Use of effigies of owls and others to scare birds
  • Research on pulsed landing lights to make aircraft more visible to birds
  • JFK shooting experiment and falconry evaluation
  • Evaluate dead bird effigies to scare birds

Bird Radar Research

This research was started in 2000. The goal is to determine if low cost radars can reliably detect birds at or near (three to possibly five miles) to airports and be used to develop an airport bird strike advisory system. The radar data is overlayed on an airport geographic information system. The information could be displayed at the airports operation center or possibly in the aircraft cockpit. As many airports routinely have birds in the area, we do not yet know if this system would be capable of providing alerts that would be operationally suitable for making specific decisions on landing or takeoff. It may be of most use for airport operators to manage their wildlife control programs. The research is continuing to address these operational type issues. We are conducting radar evaluations currently with two Bird Radar systems at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, two Bird Radar systems at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Oak Harbor, WA, and one Portable research radar unit that is owned/leased by the University of Illinois (CEAT) currently finishing a brief deployment at YVR (Vancouver, BC Canada).

Next Steps

We are planning additional testing at:

  • Chicago O'Hare International (ORD) – one or two radar systems are slated for deployment at ORD. Initial clutter mapping work has been conducted at 26 locations around the airport to identify the best location for the radar. Deployment is pending within the next six weeks.
  • Dallas Fort Worth International – One or two radar systems are slated for deployment at DFW. Preliminary plans have been submitted. Right now there are 6 target locations that need to be evaluated through the clutter mapping procedure. Then the necessary FAA 7460 forms will be submitted for those locations. Deployment is anticipated within the next three months.
  • John F. Kennedy International – Preliminary coordination for deployment of a radar system at JFK has been initiated with the Port Authority of NY and NJ. Location determination and clutter mapping are necessary along with the 7460 paperwork.

Wildlife Hazard Manual

Research results are incorporated into FAA Wildlife Hazard Manual to make available practical control measures to airport operators.

FAA Wildlife Hazard Mitigation Funding

Since 1997, the FAA has provided approximately $387 million in Airport Improvement Program funds to airports nationwide for projects involving the assessment, planning and mitigation of wildlife hazards. The Fiscal Year 2008 funding provided for these projects totaled approximately $34.5 million.

Water Rescue

  • Part 139 provides that airports will include in their emergency plans a water rescue plan if significant bodies of water and marsh lands are situated beneath the approach and departure paths.
  • The emergency plan should include significant bodies of water located within at least two miles of the end of the runway.
  • AC 150/5210-13B, Water Rescue Plans, Facilities, and Equipment, is the controlling AC.
  • Water rescue plans assume an aircraft will ditch during the approach or landing phase (meaning close to land facilities).
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