Conflicting traffic: characterization of the hazards of birds flying across an airport runway
Viljoen, Ignatius M.
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Bird–aircraft collisions cost millions of dollars to aviation globally and cause deaths. We designed and tested a protocol to study the hazards to aircraft from birds flying across runways where aircraft rotate and climb during take-off. We recorded birds and flight height of birds flying across runway 03L at OR Tambo International Airport, South Africa. A total of 7,938 birds of pigeon size or larger crossed a 400 m length of runway during 14 h and 15 min, a rate of 8.8 birds per minute; there were 200 aircraft taking off during this period. The biggest bird–aircraft collision hazard is posed by African Sacred Ibis and Grey-headed Gull. Respectively, these species contribute a mean of 111 kg per 10 min and 47.2 kg per 10 min biomass flying across the runway. We identify possible management options to reduce the hazard of bird–aircraft collisions. Our survey protocol and data treatment is easy to use, will add additional and important definition to existing activities to reduce bird–aircraft collisions and can provide comparable hazard information to aerodrome authorities and pilots