Image: USDA National Wildlife Research Center
Reading There is apparently a surprisingly easy way to prevent aircraft collisions with birds: you just have to provide the flier outside with flashing lights. This is now shown in a series of experiments conducted by a US research team headed by Bradley Blackwell of the American National Wildlife Research Center. In this way, the risk of dangerous collisions should be significantly reduced in the future, the scientists hope. Currently, the number of such collisions is increasing worldwide? Over the past 25 years, they have cost over 230 lives. On January 15, 2009, US Airways launched Flight 1549 from New York's LaGuardia Airport. The plane came only seven kilometers, then the plane had to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River. Both engines were damaged, some of the 155 passengers were seriously injured on landing. The cause: At a height of over 900 meters, the aircraft had collided with a flock of birds? a so-called bird strike. A study of springs from the damaged engines found that the causers of the aircraft damage were Canadian wild geese, which collided with the aircraft in the air.

To reduce the risk of such accidents, Blackwell and his team tested how geese respond to different optical signals on aircraft. They had a remote-controlled aircraft fly on a flock of fenced geese. At one point two lights flashed alternately on its bow, once it was unlit. In addition, the researchers also used a painted aircraft, which should represent a bird of prey.

In the experiment, the geese evaded the illuminated aircraft more than four seconds earlier than the other two. Therefore, the authors of the study now recommend that more research on the lighting of the machines is needed to give birds the opportunity to avoid aircraft in time. "This is just the first step. In addition to the lighting, we also want to know how to customize the color scheme of an aircraft so that it is easier for birds to see, says Blackwell. This work is exciting.

It is estimated that bird strikes cost the aviation industry about $ 1.2 billion each year. While the frequency of these accidents is increasing worldwide, they are becoming increasingly rare in Germany, according to the German Committee for the Prevention of Avian Insect Ailments (DAVVL). display

Bradley F Blackwell (National Wildlife Research Center) et al: Journal of Applied Ecology, doi: 10.1111 / j.1365-2664.2012.02165.x © science.de - Sabine Kurz

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