For Immediate Release

Release No. ASW 05-04
September 23, 2004
Contact: John Clabes, Roland Herwig
Phone: (405) 954-7500

FORT WORTH — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is testing a new bird detection radar at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). The radar — if the tests are successful — might be used to warn air traffic controllers of a potential danger to aircraft.

The FAA's airport technology research and development branch is testing a small, portable short-range radar near the ends of several runways at DFW. The radar, with a three-mile range, can track movement of flocks of birds and alert airport authorities of a danger to arriving and departing air traffic. About 2,500 flights a day operate in and out of DFW.

The FAA's Office Of Aviation Research, and its Airport Technology Research and Development Branch developed the radar under the Dual Use Science and Technology program. The program also has the cooperation of the U.S. Air Force, the University of Illinois, and Waveband Corporation of Irvine, Calif. Tests will determine the ability of this radar to detect birds in an operational airport environment.

"DFW offers a great landscape for this kind of testing," said Rick Compton, speaking for the FAA's Southwest Region airports division. "The airport has been working with the University of Illinois for several years on wildlife data collection and volunteered for this project."

If the tests are successful, the radar has the potential to become a part of a wildlife advisory system, providing real-time warnings of bird flocks near airports. The joint research is to enhance overall airspace safety, and to reduce aircraft damage and potential accidents due to bird strikes. The short-range radar does not interfere with other airport and FAA communications, navigation and surveillance equipment

Tests will be conducted through Sept. 24. Results of the test will be used to determine if such radars are technically feasible and practical for operational use.