It is widely recognised that
bird strikes pose a serious safety risk to the international aviation
industry. Bird hazard management received specific attention as part of the
Environmental Impact Assessment process for the King Shaka International airport
now being constructed north of Durban.
Data from a specialised bird detection radar study and bird surveys done at
the proposed King Shaka International airport site was used in conjunction with
known bird strike statistics from Airports Company South Africa airports and more specifically Durban
International Airport to evaluate the potential bird strike risk. The Barn
Swallow roost site to the south of the proposed King Shaka International airport
also deserved specific attention as it poses a potential aviation safety
Following the submission of the Environmental Impact Assessment report to the
Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism a positive record of decision
was received which stipulated that a bird detection radar system must be put in
place at the airport to specifically monitor the swallow movements in the
approach and departure path over the reedbed in which they roost.
General bird strike risk:
Based on the bird species recorded at the proposed King Shaka International
airport site it was concluded that compared to the current Durban International
Airport a similar or lower bird strike risk would exist. The potential bird
strike risk could therefore however be mitigated by an integrated bird and
wildlife management programme – such as the one currently in place at Durban
Bird hazard management has been included in the design
and construction phases of the airport – specifically looking at vegetation
establishment and building design. Careful consideration has also been given to
land-use planning in the vicinity of the airport so as to ensure that
developments that do take place consider aviation safety in the
Barn Swallow flocks – bird strike risk
Surveys conducted at the Mount Moreland reedbed to the south of the proposed
King Shaka International airport concluded that the Barn Swallow swarms gather
above the reedbed in the late afternoon around dusk. The surveys including the
bird detection radar aimed to determine the number of birds present at the site
and most importantly from an aviation safety perspective the height at which the
swarms fly above the reedbed – i.e. whether they pose a potential risk for
approaching and or departing aircraft.
Detailed radar data analysis indicated
that there are times that the swallows do penetrate the approach path of
aircraft. Such events occur most commonly during the early morning departures
from the reedbed roost site. The early morning dispersals happen mostly before
any scheduled aircraft arrivals or departures i.e. earlier than 06:00 in the
morning – thus further limiting the potential risk. The late afternoon swarming
behaviour took place mostly below the aircraft approach paths.
The swallows did
however on a few isolated occasions fly at higher altitudes but only under
certain weather conditions and only a small proportion (less than 5%) of the
birds flew at such high altitudes and these events lasted for a very short time
(10 min). It was also found during radar demonstrations done at the current
Durban International Airport that a swallow roost exists there in close
proximity (<1000m) of the main runway – yet these birds have never posed a
threat to aircraft operating there.
It can therefore be concluded that a co-existence model between the swallows
and the proposed King Shaka International airport is definitely possible. In
light of available technology i.e. radar which can be incorporated into the
operational plan of the airport aircraft can be warned and be in a position to
take precautionary measures.
Wildlife Management System – applied use of GIS technology for wildlife
control at Airports Company South Africa airports
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has over the past few years become an
integral part of the operations at all Airports Company South Africa airports. What has however been
lacking is opportunities to use this technology in a hands on fashion managing a
risk out on the airfield. Bird and wildlife management took the lead here and
the wildlife control officers are now using handheld mobile computers with
integrated global positioning systems to record information and track their
patrols out on the airfield.
From now on, the Wildlife Control Officers (WCOs)
at Durban International and O.R. Tambo International Airports will be able to log
their routes, make recordings of birds, other wildlife and any problems noted
during their patrols, and produce reports more effectively. While conducting
patrols, the WCO’s will, at the push of a few buttons, be able to mark precisely
where they have observed bird attractants such as standing water, grass that
requires cutting, or any other hazard. When they return to the office, they
simply upload the data, produce a report and then e-mail the report which
contains a really detailed map pin pointing the exact location and details to
the relevant department.
During October this year, Durban International Airport was the first to
receive their hand-held computer with integrated Global Positioning System (GPS)
and have now been using the system for almost a month. After a two-day training
course both Marius van Rooyen and Indresan Govender were certified proficient at
using the system. Following this, Melissa Hofmann and Ronel Steenkamp at O.R.
Tambo International Airport received their GPS unit and training course in
November. They are already finding the system a great help to mark cut and
uncut grass, record their bird counts and make notes of any potential hazards
that they come across while on patrol.
The system also allows for the manual capturing information regarding routes
and observations without using the handheld GPS unit. This will be especially
useful for smaller airports with a lower risk profile and where fire and rescue
record information. The information entered into the system is stored on a
central server ensuring that access is quick and only a few mouse-clicks away!
During 2008, this programme will be rolled out at all other Airports Company South Africa airports
throughout South Africa enabling ongoing improvements in the management of birds
Click here to support this programme
Family : Hirundinidae
Typical characteristics : The barn swallow seems to
be the most popular swallow in rural areas. The Barn Swallow is a very slim bird
with a verylong forked tail. The tail is longer than the tail of the Tree
Swallow. The size of the Barn Swallow is about 17 to 21cm, 5cm of this length is
the tail. The top of the Barn Swallow is coloured black, the throat and the
forehead is redbrown. The bottom of the Barn Swallow is white, which gives a
great contrast to the rest of the bird. The Barn Swallow looks very elegant in
Behaviour : The Barn Swallow is a very sociable
bird especially in the off-breeding season.
Food : The Barn Swallow only eats flying insects
caught during the flight.
Reproduction, Breeding : The breeding season of the
Barn Swallow spans from the time they arrive to the time they leave for winter.
They generally make their nests inside buildings.
Habitats, Locations : The area of circulation
includes almost entire Europe - except the northern parts of Scandinavia.
Special notes : In Germany there is an adage :
"Eine Schwalbe macht noch keinen Sommer".