Why do airports need falcons if they hardly do their job?
Why do airports need falcons if they hardly do their job?

Birds regularly get into aircraft turbines, but in most cases, huge colossus simply do not notice such "interference". It is almost impossible to avoid such collisions, which is why modern aircraft are designed in such a way as to cope with isolated cases of missed birds. It's another matter when the birds are a flock.

Birds and aviation

One of the most telling examples of how a flock of birds can play a role in an airplane flight is the A320 crash landing on the Hudson. Then, in January 2009, just a minute and a half later, the plane collided with a flock of Canadian geese, and both engines failed at once. Only thanks to the professionalism of the crew was it possible to land the plane directly on the water of the river in New York, so that all the people on the plane survived. In 2016, a Clint Eastwood film was released on this event, starring Tom Hanks.

Birds of prey at work

Thus, the US Federal Aviation Administration published a report in 2013 that more than 11,000 aircraft collisions with birds were recorded in their country in a year. This number has increased even more since then - partly because planes have become quieter, partly because air travel has become more affordable and people fly more often.

Trained falcons

So the issue of collision of aircraft with birds really was and is relevant, and not only for the United States. One way or another, every airport in every country faces this problem. However, a single solution has not been worked out, each airport decides this in its own way. Someone uses sirens, someone pyrotechnics. One company has even developed special drones that look like falcons to scare off other birds. There are even airports that keep goats, sheep and llamas to eat up any plants that might interest the birds.

Falcon in service

And with all this, the most effective were live falcons. Companies that train birds of prey are far from everywhere, but such birds have shown the best results in scaring away other birds. In fact, falcons very rarely hunt birds - perhaps one in a hundred. They are mainly interested in mice, rats, voles and lizards. So how can they do their "job" if they are not hunting other birds?

Falcon Training Service in Canada

As it turned out, they do not have to hunt and kill birds in order to scare them away. It is enough just to have them. The very sight of a predator flying over the field is able to make any flock of birds change their trajectory and fly around the runway as far as possible.

Feathered predator

Falcons are used, for example, at the Toronto airport. They hired a special company that takes care of the feathered predators, while the birds themselves spend their time over the fields from dawn to dusk. There is always a risk that the bird will fly away, and therefore a small radio beacon is attached to each of them to detect the refugee. And so that the birds do not have the temptation to fly away, they are deliberately fed on the territory of the airport.

Falcon in service

Today, the airports of New York, Toronto, Montreal, Sacramento, Belgrade and many other cities use the services of birds of prey to solve the problem of collisions with birds. Experts call falcons "white sharks of the sky", implying that they are so dangerous to birds that it is enough for them to just be in the field of view, so that the birds already begin to fear approaching their habitat.Whether this method of solving the problem will become universal for all airports - only time will tell.

For a long time, the British Museum of Maidstone had an exhibit signed as "The Mummy of a Falcon, the Ptolemaic Age (IV-I centuries BC)." Only in 2016, with the help of an X-ray, it was found out what is this mummy really hiding.

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