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Aviation wildlife strike a focus for Airport Safety Week

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is concentrating on the risk of wildlife strike during the 2016 Airport Safety Week.

Airport Safety Week, 17–21 October 2016

Airport Safety Week, from 17–21 October, is a safety campaign that is specifically tailored to engage with employees and contractors working on an aerodrome.

ATSB Chief Commissioner Greg Hood says wildlife strike statistics provide a reminder to aircraft and aerodrome operators to be aware of the hazards posed to aircraft by birds and non-flying animals.

“Occurrences involving aircraft striking wildlife remain the most common aviation occurrence reported to the ATSB,” Mr Hood said. “Strikes with birds continue to be a significant economic risk for aerodrome and airline operators and a potential safety risk for pilots.”

Last year, 1775 wildlife strikes were reported to the ATSB, 97 per cent involving birds.

“The growth of reporting wildlife strike since the Transport Safety Investigation Act was introduced in 2003 has especially helped the ATSB to better understand the nature of birdstrikes, what the major safety risks are and where they lie,” Mr Hood said. “This has helped everyone in the aviation industry to better manage their safety risk.”

Larger bird species and flocking birds have the potential to do the most damage to aircraft. Compared to birdstrikes, animal strikes are relatively rare. The most common animals involved are hares and rabbits, kangaroos, dogs/foxes and wallabies.

There are a range of activities that can be undertaken to reduce the risk of wildlife strike.

Wildlife hazards should be assessed as part of serviceability inspections, wildlife patrols, runway inspections, and wildlife counts. Where a hazard is identified, it should be addressed through active management or by communicating the hazard to ATC or pilots.

It may be necessary to use the ATIS, a NOTAM, a note in Enroute Supplement Australia (ERSA) or a Birdwatch Condition Report to adequately communicate the hazard.

If a wildlife strike occurs, a strike report form should be completed and sent to the ATSB within 72 hours, including as much detail as possible.

Early morning, late afternoon, and after rainfall are key times for removing potential wildlife. Prioritising areas requiring dispersal should be based on airport operations, aircraft movement activity, and the distribution of high and moderate risk species.

Position of a wildlife controller should in most circumstances ensure that the wildlife are encouraged to fly or move away from aircraft movement areas and not across them.

There should be a focus on manoeuvring areas, and a variety of tools and techniques should be used to prevent habituation.

 
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Last update 17 October 2016