For Immediate Release

September 9, 2016
Contact: Marcia Alexander-Adams
Phone: (202) 267-3488


Background

The FAA requires airport sponsors to maintain a safe operating environment, which means they must conduct a Wildlife Hazard Assessment (WHA) and prepare a Wildlife Hazard Management Plan (WHMP), when there has been a wildlife strike at the airport. The Wildlife Hazard Management Plan identifies the specific actions the airport will take to mitigate the risk of wildlife strikes on or near the airport. The FAA’s wildlife hazard management program has been in place for more than 50 years and focuses on mitigating wildlife hazards through habitat modification, harassment technology, and research.

FAA Wildlife Hazard Mitigation Efforts

The FAA addresses wildlife hazards with aircraft through regulatory guidance, data collection, research, partnerships, and outreach.  The FAA has a number of initiatives underway, including:

Wildlife Strike Awareness Posters and Outreach

To encourage and increase wildlife strike reporting in the General Aviation (GA) community, the FAA began distributing awareness posters several years ago, encouraging pilots to report wildlife strikes.  The FAA has printed and distributed more than 30,000 posters as part of this outreach effort. The FAA has sent posters to general aviation airports, aviation schools, other organizations and associations, as well as Part 139 certificated airports. In addition, the FAA provides funding for education and outreach at nationwide workshops for the general aviation community. New data on the number of strikes reported at GA airports demonstrates that the outreach and posters have been successful. A new strike awareness poster will be available in 2017. 

Wildlife Hazards at General Aviation Airports

The Office of Airports encourages GA airports to conduct WHAs to determine what type of wildlife mitigation may be needed. The number of GA airports that are conducting WHAs or Wildlife Hazard Site Visits each year has increased significantly. The FAA supports GA airports by making Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants available to conduct assessments and implement eligible wildlife hazard mitigation techniques.

Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Reports

The FAA funded and assisted with the development of three new Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) reports to aid airports with the mitigation of wildlife hazards. ACRP 11-02/Task 21: Innovative Airport Responses to Threatened / Endangered Species, ACRP Report 125: Balancing Airport Stormwater and Bird Hazard Management and ACRP Report 145: Applying an SMS Approach to Wildlife Hazard Management were published in 2015 and are available from the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies (TRB) at http://www.trb.org/Publications/Publications.aspx.  ACRP Synthesis 39 report: Airport Wildlife Population Management (2013) and Synthesis 52 report: Habitat Management to Deter Wildlife at Airports (2014) are also available at the TRB website. These reports provide further guidance to augment two earlier ACRP reports: Bird Harassment, Repellent, and Deterrent Techniques for Use on and Near Airports (2011) and Guidebook for Addressing Aircraft/Wildlife Hazards at General Aviation Airports (2010). The reports are available on http://wildlife.faa.gov. 

National Wildlife Strike Database Goes Public

On April 24, 2009, the FAA made its entire bird strike database available to the public. Over the last five years, the FAA has received 51,826 civil aircraft strike reports – 9,540 in 2009; 9,927 in 2010; 10,127 in 2011 and 10,917 in 2012, 11,315 in 2013, and 13,691 in 2014. The total number of strikes reported in 2015 was 13,162. The number of strikes reported in each of the first four months of 2015 set new records. The online database contains a total of 177,269 strike reports between January 1, 1990 and December 31, 2015.

The 1990-2014 Annual Strike Report was issued in July 2015 and is available on http://wildlife.faa.gov along with all of the previous strike reports. The 1990-2015 Annual Strike Report will be issued in the fall of 2016 and also will be available on the website.

Wildlife Hazard Assessments and Wildlife Hazard Management Plans

The FAA has successfully encouraged all Part 139 airports to conduct wildlife hazard assessments, followed by a wildlife hazard mitigation plan. To date, all Part 139 certificated airports have completed or initiated an assessment.   

FAA Advisory Circulars and CertAlerts

Draft Advisory Circular 150/ 5200- 38 – Protocol for the Conduct and Review of Wildlife Hazard Site Visits, Wildlife Hazard Assessments, and Wildlife Hazard Management Plans. Thisis a new AC that defines the minimum acceptable standards for the conduct and preparation of site visits, assessments and plans. AC 150/5200-38 will also clarify the NEPA process for projects included in an airport’s WHMP. The FAA plans to issue the AC in 2016.

CertAlert 16-03Recommended Wildlife Exclusion Fencing. This CertAlert replaces CertAlert 04-16 Deer Hazard to Airport and Deer Fencing. Elevated deer and coyote populations in the United States represent an increasingly serious threat to both commercial and GA aircraft.  According to the National Wildlife Strike Database, deer and coyote are the most frequently struck terrestrial mammals (37 and 34 percent, respectively). This CertAlert provides fencing options to airports and information about AIP eligibility. 

Level of Reporting and Mandatory Reporting

Dr. Richard Dolbeer, a wildlife hazard mitigation expert, conducted a study for the FAA and issued a report in December 2009. The purpose of the report was to document trends in strike reporting. He estimated that 39 percent of all wildlife strikes at civil aviation airports from 2004 – 2008 were reported into the National Wildlife Strike Database, an increase from the estimated 20 percent reported from 1990-1994. The increased reporting of strikes is due, in part, to professionally-run wildlife hazard programs. These efforts are likely responsible for the concurrent decline in reported strikes with damage within the airport environment (<500 feet above ground level) from 2000-2011 in spite of continued increases in populations of many large bird species. Dolbeer determined the level of reporting (39 percent) during the 2004-2008 time period was statistically valid and sufficient for the FAA to track national trends in wildlife strikes, to determine the hazard level of species struck and to provide a scientific foundation for FAA wildlife mitigation policies and guidance. A new evaluation of the 2004-2008 data revealed that 42 percent of strikes were reported during that timeframe. Dolbeer recently conducted a follow-up study to analyze the data reported from 2009-2013. The report published in July 2015 shows that the current level of reporting has increased to 47 percent.  According to Dolbeer, because of the continued positive trend of strike reporting, mandatory strike reporting is still unnecessary.

Redesigned Web Site

The FAA has redesigned the wildlife strike database and made improvements to the web site resulting in a more user-friendly experience and more advanced data mining capabilities.  The newest version is set for release this fall. The site http://wildlife.faa.gov/ has search fields that enable users to find data on specific airports.    

Online Strike Reporting

Online strike reporting got easier with the release of the mobile application software. Now, anyone who needs to report a wildlife strike can do so via the web site or their mobile devices using the wireless link http://www.faa.gov/mobile.  The FAA also placed a Quick Response (QR) code scanner on the bottom of all the “Report Wildlife Strikes” posters for smart phone users who have the QR application.

Continuing Wildlife Hazard Mitigation Research Efforts and Innovative Techniques 

Avian or Bird Radar Technology

Since 2006, the FAA has worked closely with academia, airport authorities and other federal agencies to assess the performance capabilities of commercially available avian radar systems.  The FAA issued Advisory Circular 150/5220-25: Airport Avian Radar Systems in 2010, which provides performance standards that airports can use to competitively procure bird radars. As technological advancements continue to improve avian radar systems, the FAA is working to keep existing avian radar standards and guidance up to date. Avian radar is another tool available to mitigate wildlife strikes in the airport environment.  The FAA does not require airports to use one tool over another, therefore, avian radar is not a mandatory tool. The FAA continues to conduct research focused on the integration of bird radar into an airport’s operational environment with avian radar deployments at Seattle-Tacoma Airport, Dallas-Fort Worth Airport and Whidbey Island Naval Station. Additional studies are being conducted for development of a new concept for integrating avian radar data into the air traffic control tower (ATC). The concept is known as the Wildlife Surveillance Concept (WiSC) and has been designed to streamline and improve the flow of pertinent information about active hazardous bird activity through ATC to pilots. 

High-Tech Optics

The FAA’s Technical Center is conducting research to determine the capability and compatibility of high-tech optic systems in an airport environment. The FAA’s Technical Center is conducting the research.

Airport Technology R&D Report

DOT/FAA/TC-16/28 Wildlife Surveillance Concept- Avian Radar Knowledge ElicitationActivity, April1, 2016.

Falconry

Some airport operators have used falcons as one of several effective and innovative techniques in an airport’s environment to harass/disperse hazardous birds.

Border Collies

Airport operators also have used border collies to scare various species of wildlife off the airport environment. The use of border collies is a successful tool to reduce wildlife on airports.

Smithsonian Interagency Agreement

The Smithsonian identifies the bird species from remains after a strike. Bird identification helps airfield personnel implement habitat management programs. Identification also provides information so aircraft manufacturers can better design engines and aircraft to withstand the impact of likely bird collisions. The FAA provides financial support to the Smithsonian to identify bird remains from civil aviation bird strikes as a free-of-charge service to any U.S. registered aircraft, regardless of where the strike occurred, and foreign carriers if the strike occurred at a U.S. airport.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

The FAA and the USDA collaborate on research to make airports safer by reducing the risks of aircraft-wildlife collisions.  

FAA Partnerships and Outreach 

Multi-Agency Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)

The MOA has existed for many years, and provides the framework for several federal agencies to collaborate on ways to reduce wildlife threats to aviation. The agencies include the FAA, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and the U.S. Air Force. An updated MOA is being coordinated with the existing signatories and two new signatories have been added to the updated version: the National Association of State Aviation Officials and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. The official signing of the updated MOA is expected in early 2017. 

Bird Strike Committee USA

The FAA co-sponsors the Bird Strike Committee-USA as part of its continued public outreach and education effort to increase awareness within the aviation community about wildlife hazards.  The FAA and BSC-USA signed a Memorandum of Understanding in May 2013. The Bird Strike Committee USA just held its annual conference in Chicago, IL, August 8-12, 2016. The FAA’s wildlife biologists attended and presented at the conference. 

National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO)

The FAA works closely with NASAO on wildlife issues and education for thousands of non-certificated airports across the country.  The FAA has partnered with NASAO on its Wildlife Committee.  The FAA signed a joint Memorandum of Understanding with NASAO and the United States Department of Agriculture on September 20, 2013. The goal of this Memorandum of Understanding is to increase strike reporting and awareness at state- regulated airports.

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