Air Force Academy tech to the rescue

Keeping the birds and planes safely flying

AFA research aims to stop bird strikes

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo - Some potentially life saving research is going on in a lab at the Air Force Academy.  This year and last year different teams of cadets and scientists are working together to stop what has been the deadly problem of Canada Goose bird strikes targeting air planes. 

Last March, this tech was put to the test at the Air Force Academy.  The sound of the Canada Goose amplified to the level of a rock concert and big blinking lights are a huge deal to stop the birds.   Captain Jeff Newcamp gave me a recap of how a short test paid big results to get rid of these pests, "After that test case, 90 seconds of light and sound, the Canada goose population left the Air Force Academy and they have not been back since then.

The next phase of this test is to determine how the big blinking lights would affect pilots.  The lights and speakers would be attached to planes.  The tests are being done to determine if the lights would disrupt other pilots when they see them go on and off on another nearby plane to get rid of the birds.  I was told that the lights are annoying but not anything that could take away a pilot's attention in the air if air staff see them.

Cadet Michael D. Foley is proud to be part of this research which could be potentially lifesaving, "Some people spend their whole lives looking for that one thing they can do and this might be one of those things."

Colonel Bob Krauss is the AFA Chief Scientist and Director of Research.  He oversees the project.  He knows the importance of this tech to shoo away birds from civilian and military planes, "It could end up saving a lot of lives in the end."

The impetus for the research was the Miracle on the Hudson incident nearly five years ago.  Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger's civilian plane ran into a Canada Goose flock and the engines lost power after takeoff from New York's La Guardia airport.   He made a miracle landing on the Hudson River.  Amazingly no one was hurt. 

The Federal Aviation Administration says since 1990 there have been five Canada Goose strikes on planes that have severely damaged or destroyed the planes.  Two people died because of those bird hits.

The cadet team will publish the results of the research late this Spring.  You may see this anti-birdstrike technology in government and civilian aircraft within three years.

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