Birdstrike and wild animal management
Ever since an Airbus A 320 was forced to make a spectacular emergency landing on the Hudson River in New York in 2009 due to the aircraft colliding with a flock of Canada geese, the general public has been aware of the dangers to aviation presented by birdstrike. Large birds or flocks of birds can cause substantial damage to aircraft, even resulting in total engine failure. Every airport is legally obligated to ensure that suitable measures are put in place to keep the danger of collision with birds on its grounds to a minimum.
Bird and wildlife management
A Bird Control team at the airport keeps the airport operating areas free of birds by using flashing lights or firing blank cartridges. The team is also responsible for informing the traffic manager of the presence of large birds or flocks of birds. The team also keeps an eye out for any wildlife on the airport grounds which could pose a danger for aircraft. Any animals that present a potential hazard are hunted and removed.
The airport cooperates with the German Birdstrike Committee (DAVVL) to minimise the risk of birdstrike. A multi-year programme has been set up to document the presence of birds at the airport with radar. If the results indicate a need for action, the airport operator will install a permanent migration radar system and a localised early warning and forecast process.
Making the airport unappealing for birds
In order to make air traffic as a safe as possible, the airport grounds and the surrounding areas have been designed to make them as unattractive as possible for birds. There are no nesting or gathering places, and care is taken to avoid providing natural sources of food. The grass on the areas between the runways is kept fairly long (between 20 and 30 centimetres) to make it as difficult as possible for large birds of prey to hunt mice and small mammals. Several foxes that inhabit the airport grounds also help to reduce the mouse population. High grasses are avoided by migrating birds as they are unable to identify potential enemies amongst the grass. When choosing plants for the airport grounds preference is given to trees and shrubs that do not bear fruit and thus provide no food for birds.
All buildings are design to provide as little space for birds to sit or nest. The open-sided car parks are fitted with a façade of fine-mesh material and steel netting to prevent birds flying into them.