The presence of wildlife in the vicinity of the airfield is a threat to aircraft operations worldwide. Every year numerous collisions occur between aircraft and wildlife that cause damage to aircraft. Although most wildlife strikes involve birds, those involving other animals may also have a severe outcome. Wildlife strikes have been estimated to cost the global civil aviation industry approximately USD1.2 billion per year (a rate of USD36,000 per strike). This sum is estimated for direct costs that include flight delays, cancellations, repair costs, inspection and maintenance costs, the cost of accommodating passengers who have to be booked on other scheduled flights, aircraft write-offs, and many more. Even though the economic cost is high, the cost of human lives lost when an aircraft crashes because of wildlife strikes demonstrates the necessity for wildlife management at airports.
Every year World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) is recognized on May 13th and October 14th. This commemoration provides opportunities for important awareness-raising campaigns that highlight the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats. Global outreach like this is effective in helping to raise awareness of the threats faced by migratory birds, their ecological importance, and the need for international cooperation to conserve them. As important as it is to protect wildlife, we also need to keep the aviation community safe.
Airport operators are responsible for maintaining a safe operating environment at the airport. To carry this out, they must assess the risk of wildlife strikes at their airport. This includes assessment of wildlife species at the airport environment, the available habitat, and complete reporting of all strike incidents that occur at the airport. Based on these assessments, airport operators must develop a Wildlife Hazard Management Plan for reducing strike risk and occurrence. To address the wildlife strikes in civil aviation, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, in collaboration with ICAO and Singapore’s Aerodrome Wildlife Specialist, Mastermark, has designed two professional courses:
- A 3-day course to introduce aviation practitioners to the domain of Airport Wildlife Management.
- A 2-day course to introduce aviation practitioners to the domain of Airport Wildlife Operations.
Both of these courses were designed as per ICAO’s Airport Services Manual (Doc 9137) Part 3, Wildlife Hazard Management, using case studies of the best practices adopted globally.
Airport Wildlife Management Course
This course provides a complete overview of the critical components involved in a wildlife hazard management programme, integrating aviation knowledge and its stakeholders with a broad understanding of wildlife and habitat management. Participants will review developments in technology, dispersal, and data collection techniques and explore a broad spectrum of management strategies and methodologies.
The course is intended for personnel who are responsible for developing and implementing an airport’s wildlife hazard management programme. The course is aimed to enhance the knowledge and skill sets needed to create a successful wildlife hazard management programme. The wildlife issues that are covered involve serious safety concerns for airport operators, and the aviation community itself.
Airport Wildlife Operations Course
This course includes the basic wildlife identification techniques, with a focus on various bird species, behavior patterns of wildlife, wildlife capture tools, firearms and pyrotechnics safety and operations, Mastermark’s wildlife framework (Aerodrome Wildlife 360), and technology updates. This course also introduces BIRD Tab as an example of a data collection and bird dispersal system and provides an in-depth look into the types of wildlife hazard management techniques used in airports.
This training provides Airport Wildlife Operators with an understanding of how effective tools and techniques can be practical and implementable. Wildlife experts and biologists will illustrate how effective techniques can be implemented for the best results. This “hands-on” course, with training in the classroom and on the airfield, emphasizes the practical application of tools and techniques to assist airports in managing wildlife and employing a practical wildlife hazard management programme. The course is intended for individuals who are responsible for wildlife management at airports.