New Task Force Formed To Curb Bird Strikes

By: Caroline Brady Email
By: Caroline Brady Email

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Friday, April 10, 2009

It's called a miracle -- a commercial aircraft making a "successful water landing" after striking a flock of birds. Now that so-called lucky strike is putting the focus on potential problems in the air capital.

Us Airways flight 1549 was dramatic enough to capture the attention of the entire country without loss of life.

It put the spotlight on a problem that has not always received the attention it deserves.

It was standing room only at the Wichita Airport Authority's regional workshop. The issue-- how best to use land near public airports. Bird strikes caused US Airways flight 1549 to land in the Hudson River. Director Victor White calls it a blessing in disguise.

"We've already got the airport property under control. It's what we don't own next to the airport or within the zones away from the airport - that the FFA has guidelines for - that need to be looked at."

Mid-Continent is trying to set up a master development plan that takes into account the effect surrounding properties have on wildlife strikes at the airport, especially water development.

In Kansas, the population of Canada geese increases by 8% every year, and the aviation community wants to do something about it.

In November, a local developer was granted permission to build a 30 acre pond three miles south of airport runways, despite claims the pond will attract more birds. Wildlife Biologist on staff at Mid-Continent says that's a problem.

"Our number one concern as a species is water fowl. In particular, Canada geese. And anything we can do to manage habitats and decrease goose populations would benefit the airport in a positive way."

Already, the airport uses hazing and harassment techniques to scare away birds that could pose a danger to departing planes because aircraft are most at risk for catastrophic strikes while taking off. A new task force has been created from members of city and county government as well as the airport authority to evaluate what new developments will do to the local bird and mammal populations.

"There's a lot of people that would much rather feel safer in an aircraft or on the ground and a lot of people that would prefer animal rights."

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