Archive 2008

24 – 28 November 2008
The 4th Seminario Internacional do Perigo Aviario & Fauna was held in Brasilia, organized by the local Bird Strike Committee; also the periodic Conference of International Bird Strike Committee (IBSC) took place within this meeting, that was attended by representatives coming from 35 countries.
About thirty documents were presented in the conference, focusing on the several aspects of the phenomenon, from prevention to legal issues, obviously highlighting the air navigation problems related to South American bird species. Here the massive presence, even inside airports, of Urubu (Coragyps atratus), or Black Vulture, poses great problems, common to the whole continent.
Italy was represented by three experts, Dr. Valter Battistoni, from B.C. & T., Dr. Alessandro Montemaggiori, who is also the Italian CAA consultant ornithologist, and Dr. Paolo Iori from Bird Raptor Internacional SA.
Together they presented the paper “Beyond falconry between tradition and modernity: a new device for bird hazard prevention at airports”.
The paper describes a new kind of remote controlled model aircraft (Falco Robot GBRS) in shape and with the bearing of a real bird of prey; it possesses all the advantages and the effectiveness of the falcons used at airports, without showing their lack of versatility and the other countless disadvantages of the true birds of prey, especially for their cost.
Furthermore it describes the satisfying results of the model test series, carried out at Rome Fiumicino airport in the summer of 2008.
It’s important to underline that in Italy a bird dispersal device had never been tested before by independent experts and with scientific criteria; the falconry effectiveness, often emphasized by the media, is declared more often than not by the same falconers, generally without a proper assessment methodology.
The presentation was greatly appreciated by the audience, and also the company that is merchandising the new device received a great deal of declarations of interest.
The full paper can be downloaded from this website section “papers”.
Moreover a remarkable announce was made regarding important improvements in the ICAO Annex 14 concerning bird strike issues, to be published within this year. The changes will mainly take into consideration the 2006 IBSC Recommended Practices (that can be downloaded from the website
Further information on the Brasilia meeting and on “Falco Robot GBRS” can be found on the websites and
BREAKING NEWS – 10 November
A multiple bird strike with ingestion by one or both engines, occurred this morning at 07.56 L.T. at Rome Ciampino airport to a Ryanair B737/800 arriving from Frankfurt Hahn.
According to media releases, the aircraft would have impacted a flock of starlings in the final segment of the landing at an altitude of about 150 ft. The aircraft reportedly ingested several birds and lost power as a consequence.
As a matter of fact it ended the landing roll slightly banked on its left side.
No one resulted injured on board among the 166 passengers, while the aircraft suffered substantial damages.
Witnesses report presence of blood and evidences of an impact on the wings and on the radome.
The airport Authority told that a runway inspection had been conducted one hour before the event, with nothing to be reported. The one-runway airport remained closed for almost all day.
The presence of starlings is a typical phenomenon of the Autumn/Winter season, even if in some cases the species shows to be resident all year long. The impact altitude induces to suppose that the event occurred inside the airfield or in a bordering area.
According to ENAC CAA statistics, at Rome Ciampino airport in 2007 bird strikes increased by 43% with regard to 2006, with 18 impacts out of 65.633 aircraft movements, and with a ratio of 2.7 impact out of 10.000 movements, below the attention threshold established by CAA at 5. This is reported be caused by some bird population increase at regional level.
According to the Recommended Practices released by the International Bird Strike Committee “a properly trained and equipped bird/wildlife controller should be present on the airfield for at least 15 minutes prior to any aircraft departure or arrival. Thus, if aircraft are landing or taking off at intervals of less than 15 minutes there should be a continuous presence on the airfield throughout daylight hours”.
August 2008

Aeroporti di Roma entrusted “Bird Raptor International SA” with an one month experimentation of the falcon-shaped model aircraft “Falco Robot”.

The tests consisted in two daily flights over the Rome Fiumicino airport threshold 34L area, early in the morning and before sunset, in order to verify if beyond the well known “tactical” effect (the immediate bird dispersal), even a “strategic” effect could be observed, i.e. if and how long the area remains clear from birds.

The model made 42 flights in total, 17 of them in presence of yellow-legged gulls (Larus Michaellis).

In these circumstances the area was completely cleared in an average time of 8 seconds.

After each flight the area (about 1 km.radius) showed to be clear from birds for at least 1,5 hours. In some cases even the escape of very distant flocks of gulls was observed, not perceived by the model operator when the model was launched.

The duration of horrific effect therefore seems to be long-lasting, much more than any other dispersal means in use until now (pyros and distress calls).

A detailed paper on the new device and this experimentation will be presented by B.C. & T expert Dr. Valter Battistoni and other authors at the next International Bird Strike Committee meeting, that will be held in Brasilia next November, and will be published in this website.

June 2008

ENAC (Italian CAA) re-established its own Working Group called “Bird Strike Committee Italy” (BSCI), consisting of 6 internal members and one ornithologist. BSCI will also interface with a 7 external expert group, appointed by several organizations in civil and military aviation.

BSCI is in charge of assessing the naturalistic researches conducted by airport operators and determine if the local wildlife situation requires a specific prevention plan, as well as assess these plans.

Furthermore BSCI should collect all bird strike data recorded in Italy and send them to ICAO according to the IBIS programme.

June 2008

Three years ago the Italian Parliament launched the most important reformation in the field of prevention against bird strikes at airports, putting under ENAC (Italian CAA) control all works, plantations and human activities around airports which could represent a potential attraction for wildlife and a hazard for air navigation.

It was a real legal revolution that put Italy in the spotlight all over the world as one of the few countries, probably the only one, that limited private property in areas bordering on airports mainly for bird related problems.

The reformation had been planned to face the chronic problem of the landfills, too often close to airports, like at Genoa and Rome Fiumicino airports, that cause dozens of serious impacts every year.

Three years after there’s no news regarding landfill closures nor similar procedures in progress. In actual fact it does not seem that even the census of attractive sites around airports has begun.

Next meetings

24 – 28 November 2008

 Brasilia (Brazil) – International Bird Strike Committee Conference. For further information see

June 2008
IFALPA (the worldwide representative body for Airline Pilots Unions) has adopted IBSC (International Bird Strike Committee) best practice for aerodrome wildlife management as its new policy guidance.
Best practice have been adopted in the latest IBSC conference that took place in Athens in 2005. Details can be seen on the IFALPA website at  Full text of the best practices can be downloaded from IBSC website (
Hopefully this will help to ensure that pilots know what standards of wildlife management to expect when they fly into an aerodrome, and possibly demand a full compliance from airport operators, putting under pressure the Aviation Authorities, if necessary.
This shows the power of developing independent expert guidance for the industry. Developing more best practice guidance in the future will certainly be an item that will be discussed at the forthcoming IBSC meeting in Brazil (Brasilia, 24/28 November 2008).
May 2008

Cagliari airport takes urgent corrective actions. After the recent event when the airport was closed for some hours due to the presence of seagulls above the runway,  in spite of the attempts to disperse them with traditional means, the airport operator experimented the FALCO GBDS device (Gregarious Birds Dispersal System), now better known as  “Falco Robot”.
It is a remote controlled falcon-shaped aircraft model that reproduces accurately the appearance and the flight movements of  a bird of prey, in this case a Goshawk (accipiter gentilis).
Due to the accidental absence of birds inside the airport, the first raid took place in the morning on the shores of a near pond, directed to a little flock of herring gull hens that was roosting in the low grass. They immediately abandoned their nests but not completely because of the presence of  nestlings, even though keeping themselves at a safe distance. The second raid, on the afternoon, was targeted on another small flock of black headed gulls floating on the water that immediately flew away disappearing from the sight.
   In both cases the birds made (authentic) distress calls enhancing the horrific effects even to a great distance. Despite the adverse conditions (Falco Robot is designed to disperse birds inside airports, places normally without nests or great water surfaces), one more time the device proved to be effective in freeing immediately from birds wide areas and allowing safe aircraft movements in almost real time.
BC & T  offers its professional advice to “Bird Raptor Internacional”,   Falco Robot manufacturer,  from the beginning of their experimentations. Therefore a BC&T expert was present during the tests.
Now Cagliari airport  will have to come to a decision about the opportunity to adopt the device.

April 2008

The press reported the inconvenience due to the presence of a large flock of gulls on Cagliari Elmas airport on the afternoon of the 30th of April, that caused severe delays to many departing flights or diversions to other Sardinian airports.
The airport was closed as a precautionary measure as an impact of an aircraft to these birds may lead to catastrophic effects.
Though Cagliari airport is situated on a large pond shore, populated with several bird species, it is not generally affected by such extraordinary phenomena; the unusual presence would be reportedly connected with some works on the main runway (at the present time a parallel runway is active) that caused earth turning and the appearance on the surface of small invertebrates that seemed to be a very appreciated food for gulls.
Generally speaking, one can only note that –- the expenses related to passenger assistance and to the consequent damages  of just a few  hours of an airport closure (more fuel consumption, delays, missed connections) are comparable with the costs of an effective system based on an yearly ornithological guidance, prevention and bird dispersal devices.
14 February 2008

 Aeroporto di Roma Fiumicino, International Workshop "Airports and Bird Strikes: Are we winning?" . Speakers: Prof. Spanò from Genoa University, Ing. Eminente from ENAC, Chair of Bird Strike Committee Italy, Dr. Montemaggiori, ornithologist and ICAO expert, Dr. John Allan, Chair of International Bird Strike Committee, Dr. Battistoni from BC&T and Dr. Iori from Bird Raptor srl.  


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