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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The U.S. Air Force bird avoidance model

  • Author(s): DeFusco, Russell P.
  • et al.

The United States Air Force reports approximately 3,000 bird strikes to its aircraft annually, which cost nearly $50 million on average. In the last decade, the Air Force has suffered the loss of 14 aircraft with 33 aircrew fatalities. For military aircraft, the majority of catastrophic incidents occur on high-speed, low-level, and range missions where bird control is not possible. The only alternative in these environments is to avoid known bird concentrations. The Bird Avoidance Model (BAM) is a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based program that integrates historical information on bird distributions and abundances with various geographic and environmental factors. It creates graphic risk surfaces for determining the relative degree of hazard for any location in the Continental U.S. The initial version of the model includes over 50 species considered most hazardous to flight operations. Large birds, such as waterfowl and raptors, and flocking species, such as blackbirds and gulls, constitute the greatest threat. The user interface for the new BAM is a simple, menu-driven, PIC-based program that allows flight planners, route designers, and aircrew to select the geographic location, time of year, and time of day that they desire to fly a particular route. We need to field test the model, refine some of the data layers, expand to areas outside the U.S. and, ultimately, provide near-real time updates to the model using technologies such as doppler radars and satellite telemetry.

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