Friday, July 20, 2012

Haneda Airport installs bird strike prevention equipment

TOKYO — The operator of Tokyo’s Haneda Airport has installed radar equipment to track birds which may be drawn into airplane engines and potentially cause them to stop, according to officials from ministry of transport. 

 The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism said the rise in bird strike incidents is due to the increase in night flights at the airport since it opened its fourth runway and moved to a 24-hour timetable in October 2010, Fuji TV reported.

Airport authorities have difficulty keeping track of bird movements at night due to poor visibility. In order to help Haneda identify bird flight patterns and gathering spots, the radar—similar to one used at JFK International Airport in New York—is designed locate their positions up to 300 meters high. A loudspeaker system can then be used to disperse the birds using popping sounds.

Haneda airport officials say the system has been in use for almost three months and is the first in the world to utilize both horizontal and vertical radars in combination with surveillance cameras, Fuji TV reported. The system is intended to enable users to identify the number, size and even species of birds in the vicinity.

Meanwhile, NHK reported that the transport ministry said there was a total of 240 bird strike incidents at Haneda last year, and this year the number has reached 176 cases. The ministry added that there were around 1,600 cases at airports nationwide last year.

Until now, Haneda has relied on staff armed with guns loaded with blanks to search for and scare off birds. It is hoped that the new system will provide a more effective means of dispersing flocks.

Ministry officials added that there are provisional plans to introduce similar technology at other airports in Japan if the equipment proves to be effective, NHK reported.

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