AirshareXYZ present at the World Birdstrike Association Conference

 

The AirshareXYZ project is focusing on establishing a collaborative industry approach to wildlife management in order to secure safe and continuous uninterrupted operations for airlines and passengers.

The immediate project focus is to gather experience and feedback from airports in order to create an understanding of the most effective wildlife management actions and establish a knowledge sharing ecosystem. The AirshareXYZ is an attempt to identify key factors and concrete elements of an efficient wildlife control and reduction plan and share this knowledge across the industry.

In other words, the AirshareXYZ project is  crowdsourcing the best possible wildlife control and reduction practices.

In the first part of the project, the use of different types of mitigating actions has been mapped out across destinations around the world that are participating in the AirshareXYZ project. The next phase will be to ask airports to share their experience on the use of mitigating measures, efficiency, species, etc. The vision is to give airports access to experience and knowledge from peers at other airports, as well as actively communicating with airlines where and how the risk can be reduced.

The initial survey has been sent out to 700+ airports worldwide. The follow-up questionnaire will be drafted at the WBA Conference during the Data & Oversight workshop, using the experience of worldwide experts. We would appreciate your input during this process – join us at the workshop at the WBA meeting. You can sign up here.

Collaboration is the key to success! It is important to understand that the AirshareXYZ project is not an assessment; it is an attempt to establish a cross-industry collaboration. The results of the project will be published on the AirshareXYZ project website, where you can also find monthly progress reports and much more.

Airport participation is essential– but completely voluntary. Airports approve with whom they wish to share their data. In all public analyses data is anonymised to a continental level.

See you in Warsaw on 19-23 of November 2018 – remember to sign up!

 

 


A Holistic Approach to Wildlife Risk Assessments

A Holistic Approach to Wildlife Risk Assessments

Wildlife Hazard Management (WHM) at Copenhagen Airport is moving away from conducting generic step-by-step Wildlife Risk Assessments (WRA) based on “One size fits all”.  The approach is becoming more holistic following the notion that conducting WRA’s are like assembling a puzzle where data is the pieces and every picture is unique; therefore, the more different types of data we include in the WRA, the more cohesive and clear the picture becomes.

One of the cornerstones in our WHM is the Wildlife Risk Assessment Matrix (RAM), developed by John Allan (‘A Heuristic Risk Assessment Technique for Birdstrike Management at Airports’, 2006). It allows you to assess a bird species risk to flight safety based on the Frequency and Severity of a birdstrike. The RAM functions as the starting point, or the first puzzle piece, creating an overview of potential wildlife hazards in need of comprehensive WRA’s.

The next puzzle piece is data collected by Bird Controllers. At many airports Bird Controller data includes presence (number) and behaviour of the bird species observed at the airport, thereby offering knowledge on the potential risk posed by each species. Moreover, it may guide you towards the root cause of the risk, that is “what is causing the behaviour?”. Root causes may be identified by comparing observational data with general knowledge on the biology of the specific bird species.

Bird Controller data may also reveal if a certain species is passing over the airport, e.g. daily or seasonally, without actually using the airport directly. If that is the case, data collected in the surroundings of the airport is needed to enable identification of the root cause. A good place to start is mapping all bird attractive areas in the surroundings of the airport, for example wetlands, nature reserves, farmlands, open dumping sites and so forth, and subsequently collect data on presence and behaviour of the species. If data reveals that the species at hand are present at a certain nature reserve, data on movement patterns can further elucidate if individuals or flocks are performing a movement pattern, e.g. daily foraging trips from the nature reserves to another site in the surroundings, making it a risk to flight safety. 3D avian radar offers comprehensive data collection on movement patterns.

The last type of data I will touch upon is Stakeholder Narratives. This type of “soft data” can be very useful to include in a WRA. Local communities surrounding the airport float with people who can tell a story regarding local wildlife and their habitats. Farmers, hunters and forest rangers all have their angle on the local wildlife and how it has evolved the previous decades. It is crucial to have in mind the premise of the knowledge you gain from Stakeholder Narratives, e.g. the potential of hidden agendas colliding with flight safety. That being said Stakeholder Narratives can contribute with some important aspects. First of all, it can elucidate the complexity of doing WHM outside the airport fence. So many local stakeholders are in play all with different perceptions of the issue at hand. Understanding this complexity is essential when WRA’s are to be converted into concrete management initiatives. Furthermore, showing an interest in the local community, and letting them know that the airport is interested in their story, might just create some good-will for later on when an initiative that might affect them is to be implemented. Secondly, those in charge of granting money for different projects at the airport are most likely not wildlife specialists. So, to be able to move on with your wildlife project, you need to be able to tell a story that first of all is evidence-based, and secondly, can catch their attention. The Stakeholder Narratives can be the spice that makes the story come alive and makes it stand out. That should never be underestimated.

To sum up, WRA’s should be holistic because that is how you ensure that all angles and all potential risks have been taken into account. To do so you need to include a wide range of data, from the newest technology to going out and having a chat with the local farmer. WRA’s need to be evidence-based, otherwise we risk wasting resources managing something that wasn’t in need of any managing, worst case we may create a wildlife hazard that was not there, to begin with. However, it is important to remember that evidence or data comes in many shapes and forms, each having both strengths and weaknesses. If you include many different types of data you increase the chance of covering all the aforementioned weaknesses, hence ending up with a strong WRA.

Written by: Camilla Rosenquist, Wildlife Manager at Copenhagen Airport (Denmark).

You can contact Camilla Rosenquist on Linkedin. 

 

 

 


How to improve the wildlife deterrent effect of your airfield grass?

How to improve the wildlife deterrent effect of your airfield grass?

Author: Mogens Hansen — Aviation Wildlife Biologist MSc. 

Almost all airports maintaining large areas of grass are spending resources to keep the airfield grass less attractive to wildlife. However, birds and mammals are still entering the airport to explore the airfield for food and rest. Bird controllers in place are the next defense against the wildlife and even though the bird controllers are fighting bravely, the birds are not giving up. But there is a third powerful defense — the chemical weapon produced by nature itself — the endophyte containing grass.

Natural grasses like Tall fescue and Ryegrass can contain natural fungi inside their tissue (the so-called endophytes). In such instances, the grass and its fungi are living happily together. The grass delivers shelter, water, and nutrients to the fungi, and the fungi pay back by producing some chemical compounds — alkaloids, that act against the grass eaters e.g., insects, mice, and geese. The alkaloids produced by the fungi to some degree inhibits the digestion of the grass, consumed by the grass eater. Consequently, if all the grass is containing such fungi it would result in fewer grass eaters, as the production of grass eaters will be slowed down by the reduced speed of food uptake.

In the wild nature, only a small and variable fragment of Tall fescue and Ryegrass has fungi inside. The fungi do not spread itself from one grass host to another. The only way for the fungi to survive, is to inhabit every single grass seed and follow the seed during the spreading and germination.

If you have Tall fescue and Ryegrass as a part of your airfield grass, a small fraction of them will certainly have endophytes. However, this fraction is not big enough to produce a deterrent effect on grass eaters. If instead, you imagine that nearly all grass has endophytes — you may see an effect.

But how can you achieve a nearly hundred percent endophyte containing sward of Tall fescue and Ryegrass? The answer is simple: by reseeding with endophyte containing seeds of Tall fescue and Ryegrass.

It is possible to buy grass seeds of Tall fescue and Ryegrass in large quantities, where almost all seeds contain endophytes. So, it is, in fact, practical to reseed for the establishment of an endophyte grass dominated airfield.

It is, of course, a difficult project to reseed the airfield. However, more attention must be paid when you are reseeding with endophyte containing seeds. The endophyte fungi in the seeds are living organisms and as such can die. Therefore, care must be taken to keep the fungi living until the seeding. So, keep the seeds in a cold and dry environment during the transportation and storage period. Further, endophyte grass has to be managed kindlier during the establishment and during the growth the years after, but it is another story.

Close studies of the effect of endophyte containing grass to birds, have been carried out at airports in New Zealand and the USA with promising results. Finally, ICAO suggests the use of endophyte grass as a method to reduce wildlife attraction to airport ground cover according to the ICAO Doc 9137, Airport Services Manual, Part 3.

All in all, it is worth to consider the establishment of this third defense measure against the wildlife. If you decide to go further, I am in a position to guide you. Just contact me via my LinkedIn profile: Mogens Hansen. 

Mogens Hansen
CEO (MSc. in Wildlife Biology)

Prinia Consult
Sjællandsgade 59C 404
DK-2200 Copenhagen N
Phone: +45 30 89 81 18
Email: [email protected]

 

 


Aalborg Airport

Bird Strikes down by 50% in Aalborg Airport

Written by Thomas Hugo Møller (Quality and Compliance manager at Aalborg airport).

By using data to understand wildlife behaviour and implementing new active measures, Aalborg Airport (Denmark) has reduced bird strikes by one half in one year.

Aalborg Airport is a growing civil and military airport in the northern part of Denmark. Situated close to the water, with large meadows and huge areas with flooded pastures in the immediate surroundings, managing wildlife is a challenge. Add a rapidly growing Barnacle goose population, and you have a problem. So, what were we to do?

We started by implementing a strict digital recording of all wildlife movements in the area. This lead to a better understanding of the bird behaviour. Due to the digital recording, we were able to map where and when our high-risk species were present and to track their local migration patterns.

Avoid bird strikes - Image from Ascend XYZ digital recording solution, showing wildlife recordings based on wildlife risk level in a 4-hour period on the 21st of February.
Image from Ascend XYZ digital recording solution, showing wildlife recordings based on wildlife risk level in a 4-hour period on the 21st of February.

With this information in hand, we started to focus on our active measures — extra “boots on the ground” in high-risk periods, new tools (e.g., remote controlled gas canons, structured hunts) to target and change local migration patterns. This, combined with education of the bird control units and strong management support, has yielded results. We went from 37 bird strikes (2016) to only 18 strikes (2017), and that with movements increased by 8 %.

What’s next for us?

In 2017 Aalborg airport was a part of the Airshare XYZ project. The Airshare XYZ project currently is supported by 13 European Airlines and more than 90 airports globally. The project is focused on sharing the knowledge, understanding how other airports and airlines are mitigating risks, what works and what doesn’t, and how we get the best effect of the measures we take. We hope to see our colleagues around the world participating and sharing their knowledge in this field.

Aalborg Airport is the first airport in Denmark to install an Avian Radar. Avian Radar allows us to give our bird control units real-time information on bird activity in the airport operations area, enabling them to take immediate actions. By combining our digital recording data with radar data, we expect to gain important insights on the effect of our area management plan. Last but not least, we will be able to map bird activity in our surroundings. It is exciting times — possibilities, understanding, and technology are changing the way we perform wildlife control and reduction. I hope this post inspired you to share insights from your Airport or Airline with the rest of us.

For more information contact Thomas Hugo Møller (Aalborg airport) on LinkedIn.