«Jukka-Pekka Nikolajeff Trafin tutkimuksia Trafis undersökningsrapporter Trafi Research Reports 7/2014 Trafin tutkimuksia 7-2014 Analysis of the Bird ...»
5.1 Introduction For over a hundred years, bird strikes have been a serious safety issue for the aviation business. Year after year the sky is becoming busier, both for aircraft and the birds, and the risk of bird strikes is increasing. Many studies have been carried out on this subject and a lot of different practices and tools have been developed to prevent bird strikes. Even so, bird strikes do occur every day, and unfortunately their number is increasing.
5.2 Conclusion of this Study In this study, many interesting observations and conclusions have been made. Some recommendations are also given based on the findings.
5.2.1 Quality of Bird Strike Reports The quality of bird strike reports varies a lot. In this study nine variables were followed and every year was different. The major differences in reporting were easy to find out. As in any occurrence reporting, good quality is more valuable than a large number of reports.
A poorly completed bird strike report is like an empty lot; it provides no information or only very little information for further research. Persons filling up bird strike report forms should make sure that they complete the form properly. Especially those reports where the bird strike did not cause any damage and had no effect on the flight are often filled up poorly, and a lot of valuable data is missing. One interesting finding was how poorly weather details were reported in the bird strike reports for year 2011. A significant improvement was that the phase of flight was marked a lot better in the reports for year 2011 than for year 2000.
One solution for improving the quality of reports could be to make certain fields on the web-based bird strike report form mandatory to fill in before the report can be sent. In this way the bird strike reports would become more useful for future studies and prevention activities.
The report is often the only source of information for those involved in airport wildlife management and for regulators, for example. As in any other incident reporting, a large number of reports are not a sign of many problems – rather just the opposite;
it indicates a good reporting culture. The benefits of bird strike reporting are more easily achieved if the quality and quantity of the reports is high. In conclusion, bird strike reporting should be made mandatory.
5.2.2 Quantity of Bird Strike Reports The quantity of bird strike reports has been increasing since the year 2008 (n = 117).
The number of bird strike reports received by the Finnish Transport Safety Agency was over 300 in the year 2012. This means a nearly 180% improvement in reporting activity. At the same time, the number of aircraft movements at Finnish airports has decreased. The total number of landings in the year 2000 was 225,025, while the Trafin tutkimuksia 7-2014 corresponding figure for the year 2011 was 210,230 (Table A1.7). Concluding from this, there were altogether 14,795 (7%) less landings but 50 (23%) more bird strike reports in the year 2011 compared to the year 2000. Pilots, air traffic controllers and airport maintenance staff have clearly lowered the threshold for filing a bird strike report.
5.2.3 Identification of Bird Species This study proved that the birds are identified poorly. In the year 2011, the bird was correctly identified only in 22 (10%) out of 222 bird strikes.
The problem of identifying the birds is common everywhere. It cannot be expected that pilots, air traffic controllers and airport maintenance staff would be able to identify all the bird species, but some kind of training should be provided on the subject.
Bird strikes often occur at the airport or in its vicinity, and the people who are working at the same airport for years often learn to know the local birds. For example Helsinki-Vantaa Airport has a flock of crows (Corvus corone), some of which have been ringed. The oldest crows in that flock are over 15 years old and familiar to many of the workers.
Stenman and Joutsen (2013) have written a booklet that introduces all the species of seagulls living in Finland and contains information on how to prevent them at airports. This is an excellent idea to increase the aviators’ knowledge about birds. In the near future, the Finnish Transport Safety Agency’s web-based reporting system will also have an option to add a picture to the online report. This will give a possibility, for instance, to add a picture of a bird that the pilot could not identify. Those pictures could then be forwarded to the Finnish Natural Museum’s ornithologists or they could be discussed in the Finnish Bird Strike Committee meetings, where there are members with better competence in identifying various bird species. In some cases, DNA testing should also be a possibility.
5.2.4 Types of Aircraft and Reported Bird Strikes Aircraft types operating in Finland are now different than over ten years ago. This can also be seen in bird strike reports. It is obvious that aircraft which have the largest share of landings and take-offs also have the most bird strikes. A clear rule of thumb is that modern turbojet aircraft are the most sensitive to bird strikes. In Finland, one operator also uses many ATR72 and ATR42 aircraft on domestic flights. A significantly larger number of take-offs and landings shows clearly as an increasing number of bird strike reports. An interesting observation was that concerning helicopters. Helicopters do not have many operations in Finland, but the probability of bird strikes is nearly as high as for turbopropeller aircraft.
5.3 Recommendations for Future Research This study brought up some questions and areas of study that could be interesting subjects for future research.
What are the differences between mandatory and voluntary bird strike reporting?
Is the quality of reports better if bird strike reporting is mandatory and is the number of reports higher in relation to aircraft movements?
What would be the best way to give information to the pilots about heavy bird activity? Should the air traffic controller, for example, suggest another runway for approaching aircraft if a flock of birds is seen in the approach sector?
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