Migrating birds create hazard for airportsBirds have begun to migrate, causing problems for airports across the nation — including the Jamestown Regional Airport, which prefers to deal with them through nonlethal means.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
Birds have begun to migrate, causing problems for airports across the nation — including the Jamestown Regional Airport, which prefers to deal with them through nonlethal means.
“Sometimes we’re dealing with about eight to 12 of them on the field,” said Matthew Leitner, airport manager. “They are very stubborn.”
Bird strikes can pose a serious problem for aircraft. US Airways Flight 1549 struck a flock of Canada geese during takeoff and was forced to land in the Hudson River in January 2009. No lives were lost in that incident.
JRA employees first utilize nonlethal measures to try to clear birds off the runway — a “bird banger” projectile weapon that fires a 12-gauge shell that explodes after 4 seconds, ideally frightening the birds away with the loud noise.
If the birds don’t clear away after the “bird banger” is deployed, airport employees are forced to take more drastic measures.
The JRA has a permit that allows it to kill 20 Canada geese, 20 Franklin’s gulls and 20 herring gulls per month, within 1,000 feet of any runway or taxi service.
The noise alone has generally been successful — just seven birds have had to be killed in September.
April, March, September and October are the worst months, Leitner said, because that’s when the birds are migrating.
One Delta Air Lines airplane sustained a bird strike on Saturday. The bird strike did not affect the plane, although it was delayed by unrelated electrical problems, Leitner said.
“A lot of times they hit them several miles out (from) the airport. Sometimes they hit them at altitude — it’s see-and-avoid to the best of your ability,” he explained, but when flying at 300 miles per hour, avoiding a bird is difficult at best. “Believe me, I’ve had several close encounters with birds as a pilot.”
“It’s an issue that we take with the utmost seriousness,” Leitner said.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org