Bird Detecting Radar?

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When birds and planes collide, the results can be disastrous. Last year a flock of canada geese cut both plane engines of flight 1549 leading to the dramatic crash landing in the Hudson River. And this week two planes hit geese and had to return to the airport, one in New Jersey the other in New York.
Now, researchers are testing a radar system aimed at giving pilots an early warning before hitting birds. The first radar units were placed at Sea-Tac airport in Seattle in 2007. Officials say the system is very good at detecting birds in a seven mile radius around the airport. The problem right now is the system is too good. It has trouble distinguishing between a species of bird that could cause a problem and one that is no threat.
Until they work through some of those technical issues, the system will not be used to alert air traffic controllers and pilots. Currently, the radar information is being used by wildlife biologists so they can monitor birds 24-7 in real time. They then go out and harass the birds away from the runways.
The information is also stored allowing biologists to create forecasting models to predict when birds are likely to be present around the airport. Migratory patterns and feeding schedules are being better understood and that can help airports avoid problems.
In 2009 there were 10,000 bird strikes reported in the U.S. aviation industry an increase of 3,000 from the previous year. And officials say only about 20-percent of the strikes get reported. While most strikes are barely noticeable to pilots, some damage to the plane does occur about 10-percent of the time.
Bird detecting radar systems are also being tested at airports in Chicago, Dallas and New York. The goal is to have some kind of bird warning system in place alerting pilots in two years. … latestnews

I’d be interested in the commercial pilot’s thoughts on this. Personally, I can’t see how it can work. If it picked up all of the birds in flight within 7 mi of our local airports, the screens would be indecipherable. Plus, how is it supposed to account for not where birds are, but where they are going to be (speed, altitude changes, etc.) as well as planes in climb and approach? To me, it just seems like a waste of money and are too many variables for this to work properly.

You’re starting to get the picture…our wonderful taxpayer money at work. :smiley:

:laughing: :laughing:

This is what happens when clueless politicians, fueled by the clueless media, force new policies on the FAA. And it is only getting worse…

I love figures like this. In order to make something worse than it actually is, they bureaucrats and polidiots, er, politicians will say something like a gazillion widgets get mugged each year but only 10% are report. How the hell do they know that? They guess. They figure if one widget gets mugged then 9 more must get mugged but don’t report it. Again, how do they know that? Simple. They make it up.

All too often I’ve heard something like “Primary target, speed & altitude unknown, crossing the centerline low speed southbound…” Very well could be birds there. But until we equip birds with Mode C, we will just never know for sure.

From a weather standpoint, TDWR’s (Terminal Doppler Weather Radar) with its 5cm wavelength can pick up flocks of large birds (ex. Migrating Geese) and show up on the velocity scan as a 15kts (depending on coming towards or away from the radar). The limitation of this is that the radar can only “see” ~700ft and above (depending on the airport). Ground birds like robins and starlings are still fair game. But it may provide forewarning for situations like the Hudson River incident.