Today a newspaper reporter asked what I thought should or could be done "to try to solve the dangerous situation of birds striking airplanes."Environmentalists are often criticized for advocating a worldview that creates a false division between nature on the one hand and all of humankind on the other. That is, they are accused of portraying everything natural as good and everything human as bad. Much of what I've been hearing about birds and aircraft sounds similar, but the roles are reversed: the human element (airplanes) is being portrayed as good and the natural element (birds) is being described as bad.Clearly, birds pose a real threat to aircraft (we described it in detail in our April 2009 issue), and we need to do all we can to minimize that threat. After all, it's our loved ones who are piloting and riding in the planes we see every day, and often enough, it's me too.But just as it's not acceptable to try to solve the world's environmental problems by getting rid of all the people, it's also unacceptable to try to solve the birdstrike problem by getting rid of all the birds. They, like us, are neither all good nor all bad. I believe strongly that we must resist any proposal that arises out of this us-vs.-them style of thinking. Thanks to the efforts of birdwatchers everywhere, we possess vast amounts of knowledge about the birds with which we share the planet. We know which species are present and when. We know how many birds are present, what types of habitat they prefer, and what habitats they avoid. We know what they like to eat, how big they are, and how fast they fly. We know the times of year when they migrate. And we know which species are rare and endangered and are therefore deserving of special care.All of this is of immense value, since it contains clues to what plants we should (and should not) allow to grow around our airports, what we should look for on collision-avoidance radars, the times of day and even the seasons when we should (and should not) fly, the routes our pilots should fly over wetlands and other bird-gathering places, how to shield jet engines, how strong to design cockpit canopies, and what effects our actions will have on other species that live near our airports.
That's a lot. And more important, it's sufficient to craft policies that adequately address the birdstrike problem while also respecting the fact, the birds and us, we're in it together. --C.H.
Thanks for sharing your article. You have good comments.
As an engineer, I believe that not only can we craft policies to address the birdstrike problem, but we can also craft airplanes that birds will NOT collide with & vice versa ,... collision-avoidance radar. It's not only important that we build aircraft in which pilots can be forwarned of oncoming birds, but also that birds can be forwarned of oncoming planes.