Saturday, April 06, 2013

At New River, birds are spooked to help save aircraft

Editor’s note: This article is part of a series commemorating the 100th anniversary of Marine aviation, which began on May 22, 1912, when 1st Lt. Alfred A. Cunningham reported to Annapolis, Md., for flight training.

The Bird/Animal Aircraft Strike Hazard, or BASH, program at the Marine Corps’ New River Air Station is helping save planes, lives and money.

The Federal Aviation Administration estimates the average cost of a damaging Naval aircraft wildlife strike is more than $300,000. Robbie Withington, a wildlife biologist who oversees the BASH program at New River, said BASH aims to reduce the threat of aircraft striking birds and animals, which saves the Marine Corps plenty of money, especially when one V-22 Osprey is valued at nearly $80 million.

Withington is an employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, which implemented the program at New River five years ago – just before the “Miracle on the Hudson” crash, when a US Airways jetliner crashed into the Hudson River after striking a flock of birds during takeoff.

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