Aerospace and Aviation Sector Skill Council

Airport Wildlife Management Crew

Introduction: Airports are bustling hubs of activity, connecting people and goods across the globe. However, amidst the organized chaos of departures and arrivals, there exists a silent yet significant challenge: wildlife management. Birds, mammals, and other animals often find airports attractive habitats or convenient stopovers, posing potential risks to aircraft safety and operations. To address this challenge, airports employ dedicated teams known as Airport Wildlife Management Crew. This article delves into the crucial role these professionals play in ensuring the safety and efficiency of airport operations while safeguarding wildlife.

Understanding the Challenge: Wildlife poses numerous hazards to airport operations, with bird strikes being the most prevalent and potentially catastrophic. Birds flying in the vicinity of airports can collide with aircraft, causing damage to engines, wings, or windshields, leading to accidents and fatalities. Additionally, wildlife presence near runways increases the risk of animal strikes during takeoff and landing, endangering passengers, crew, and airport personnel. These incidents not only pose a threat to human safety but also result in significant financial losses due to aircraft damage, delays, and operational disruptions.

The Role of Airport Wildlife Management Crew: Airport Wildlife Management Crew are responsible for implementing comprehensive strategies to mitigate wildlife hazards and ensure safe airport operations. Their duties encompass various aspects of wildlife management, including:

  1. Habitat Modification: One of the primary tasks of the Wildlife Management Crew is to modify the airport environment to deter wildlife from congregating near runways and taxiways. This involves habitat manipulation techniques such as vegetation management, habitat removal, and modification of water sources to make the area less attractive to birds and other animals.
  2. Wildlife Monitoring and Reporting: Crew members conduct regular surveys and monitoring of wildlife activity on and around the airport premises. They use a combination of visual observations, radar systems, and wildlife detection technologies to identify potential hazards. Prompt reporting of wildlife sightings enables airport authorities to take preventive measures and minimize risks to aircraft.
  3. Wildlife Control Measures: In cases where passive deterrents are ineffective, Wildlife Management Crew implement active control measures to manage wildlife populations. This may involve using non-lethal methods such as pyrotechnics, laser devices, or trained falcons to scare birds away from critical areas. In situations where lethal control is necessary, specialized personnel may be deployed to remove or euthanize hazardous wildlife species.
  4. Wildlife Hazard Management Plans: Airport Wildlife Management Crew develop and implement Wildlife Hazard Management Plans (WHMPs) tailored to the specific needs and challenges of each airport. These comprehensive plans outline strategies for preventing wildlife strikes, emergency response protocols, and ongoing monitoring and evaluation to adapt to changing wildlife patterns and behaviors.
  5. Collaboration and Training: Effective wildlife management at airports requires collaboration among various stakeholders, including airport authorities, airlines, wildlife biologists, and regulatory agencies. Wildlife Management Crew facilitate communication and coordination among these parties to ensure a cohesive approach to wildlife hazard mitigation. They also provide training and education programs to airport personnel on wildlife identification, hazard awareness, and response protocols.

Case Study: Successful Wildlife Management at Denver International Airport (DEN): Denver International Airport (DEN) serves as a prime example of effective wildlife management practices. Situated on the outskirts of Denver, Colorado, DEN faces challenges associated with its location amidst natural habitats and migratory bird routes. To address these challenges, DEN employs a dedicated Wildlife Management Crew consisting of trained biologists and wildlife specialists.

The Wildlife Management Crew at DEN employs a multi-faceted approach to wildlife management, including habitat modification, wildlife monitoring, and active control measures. Through the implementation of habitat management techniques such as vegetation removal and water source modification, they have successfully reduced the attractiveness of the airport environment to wildlife.

Furthermore, DEN’s Wildlife Management Crew utilizes innovative technologies such as avian radar systems and wildlife detection software to enhance their monitoring capabilities and detect wildlife hazards in real-time. This proactive approach enables them to implement timely interventions, minimizing the risk of bird strikes and other wildlife-related incidents.

Additionally, DEN places a strong emphasis on collaboration and stakeholder engagement, working closely with airlines, wildlife researchers, and regulatory agencies to develop and implement effective wildlife management strategies. Regular training sessions and drills ensure that airport personnel are well-prepared to respond to wildlife hazards effectively.

Conclusion: Airport Wildlife Management Crew play a vital role in safeguarding airport operations and ensuring the safety of passengers, crew, and aircraft. Through their expertise in wildlife biology, habitat management, and proactive risk mitigation, these professionals effectively minimize the risk of wildlife-related incidents at airports worldwide. As airports continue to expand and urbanization encroaches on natural habitats, the importance of robust wildlife management practices cannot be overstated. By investing in comprehensive wildlife management programs and fostering collaboration among stakeholders, airports can mitigate wildlife hazards and maintain safe and efficient operations for years to come.