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  • September 2002, VOL 58, NO 9AIR FORCE RECURRING PUBLICATION 91-1

    U N I T E D S T A T E S A I R F O R C E

    M A G A Z I N E

    4 The Identification of Birdstrike RemainsFeather detectives examine the clues

    9 A Glimpse Into Bash Before 1985Birdstrike data to aid in risk management

    10 Who Reports What to Whom, Where, and Huh?Making sense of the system

    12 The New BASH PamphletIncorporating changes from the field

    14 4th Joint Annual Meeting of Bird Strike Committee USA/CanadaSacramento CA, 22-24 October

    16 The Good, the Bad, and the BASH TeamTheres a new sheriff in town

    18 Managing Birdstrike Risk With the Avian Hazard Advisory System (AHAS)Detecting birds on radar in near-real-time

    22 Vulture Roost Dispersal Forcing nuisance birds to move

    26 Ops TopicsThose Precious Refuelers

    28 Maintenance MattersWhat We Do To Ourselves

    30 Class A Mishap Summary

    Cover: Photo Courtesy of the Smithsonian InstitutionPhoto Illustration by Dan Harman

  • September 2002 FLYING SAFETY 3


    MAJ GEN KENNETH W. HESSChief of Safety, USAF

    COL MARK K. ROLANDChief, Safety Education and Media DivisionEditor-in-ChiefDSN 246-2968

    JERRY ROODManaging EditorDSN 246-0950

    CMSGT JEFF MOENINGMaintenance/Technical EditorDSN 246-0972

    PATRICIA RIDEOUTEditorial AssistantDSN 246-1983

    DAN HARMANElectronic Design DirectorDSN 246-0932


    Air Force Safety Center web page: http://safety.kirtland.af.mil/Flying Safety Magazine on line:http://safety.kirtland.af.mil/magazine/htdocs/fsmfirst.htm

    Commercial Prefix (505) 846-XXXXE-Mail [email protected] Changes [email protected]

    24-hour fax: DSN 246-0931Commercial: (505) 846-0931


    PURPOSE Flying Safety is publishedmonthly to promote aircraft mishap prevention.Facts, testimony, and conclusions of aircraftmishaps printed herein may not be construedas incriminating under Article 31 of the UniformCode of Military Justice. The contents of thismagazine are not directive and should not beconstrued as instructions, technical orders, ordirectives unless so stated. SUBSCRIPTIONS For sale by the Superintendent ofDocuments, PO Box 371954, Pittsburgh PA15250-7954. REPRINTS Air Force organi-zations may reprint articles from Flying Safetywithout further authorization. Non-Air Forceorganizations must advise the Managing Editorof the intended use of the material prior toreprinting. Such action will ensure completeaccuracy of material amended in light of mostrecent developments.

    DISTRIBUTION One copy for each three air-crew members and one copy for each six main-tainers and aircrew support personnel.

    POSTAL INFORMATION Flying Safety(ISSN 00279-9308) is published monthlyexcept combined Jan/Feb issue by HQAFSC/SEMM, 9700 G Avenue, SE, KirtlandAFB NM 87117-5670. Periodicals postagepaid at Albuquerque NM and additional mailingoffices. POSTMASTER: Send addresschanges to Flying Safety, 9700 G Avenue, SE,Kirtland AFB NM 87117-5670.

    CONTRIBUTIONS Contributions are wel-come as are comments and criticism. The edi-tor reserves the right to make any editorialchanges in manuscripts which he believes willimprove the material without altering the intend-ed meaning.


    The Safety Sage wants to hear from you. Starting this month, thisspace will be devoted to answering your questions or concernsabout safety or about this publication. In other words, this space isnow your space.

    Do you have:Questions about flight, ground or weapons safety?Feedback on FSM and how well were doing?Complaints on FSM and what were doing wrong?

    Is there an unsafe practice, procedure or situation out there on theflightline, back shop or weapons area that isnt being addressed,and you want to bring it to everyones attention? Is there a problemwith tech data or safety guidance that needs to be addressed andtold to the rest of the world?If you are not sure of where to go forhelp with a safety issue, we can put you in touch with the expertswho can help you solve the problem. Have you developed a pro-gram or procedure that prevents mishaps, and want/need to passit along? Contact us.

    Or maybe you want to comment about Flying Safety magazine.Is there a subject were failing to address adequately in this publi-cation, or one we have completely overlooked? For instance: Or"That ABC article was the best thing (worst thing) youve everdone." Or "Why didnt you do the DEF article this way?" (Keep itcivil; our feelings get hurt as easily as anyones. Wellprobablynot, but keep it civil anyway.) Or if you just want to give us an"attaboy," thats okay too.

    Other possibilities: "I have an idea for an article you shouldwrite." Or (even better) "I have an article on XYZ that I want to sendto you."

    Our team of safety experts in flight, maintenance, life sciences,etc., is at your disposal. Well research your questions and respondto you directly as promptly as we can. On this page, well presentthe questions, comments or complaints with the most interest orimportance.

    Well still respond to "snail-mail" or e-mail addressed directly tothe editor, maintenance editor, or any of the staff. But we wantedthis space to be a safety forum, a place where we could have anactive discussion, a sort of "safety message board" or "safety chatroom."

    There are several ways to contact us. You can access the FlyingSafety magazine Web site at (http://safety.kirtland.af.mil/maga-zine/htdocs/fsmfirst.htm) and access the Safety Sage there.

    Or you can e-mail the Safety Sage at: [email protected] you can phone DSN 246-0950 or (505) 846-0950Or send a FAX to DSN 246-0931 or (505) 846-0931Or you can write the Safety Sage at:

    Flying Safety Magazine"Safety Sage"HQ AFSC/SEMM9700 G Avenue S.E.Kirtland AFB NM 87117-5670

    Were looking forward to hearing from you.

  • 18 FLYING SAFETY September 2002

    Humans have an odd appreciation ofrisk and statistics, and of the way theyinfluence our behavior. We know thatthe odds of a marriage ending indivorce are high, but we continue toget married in the firm belief it is for-ever. We know the odds of winning alottery are extremely low, but we con-tinue to play. In both of these deci-sions, we consider the returns to out-weigh the potential risks.

    Military aviators know and under-stand risks. Combat is an inherentlyrisky undertaking. The United Statesmilitary goes to extraordinary lengths toload the odds in the favor of our per-

    T. ADAM KELLYAHAS Project Manager, Avian ResearchLaboratory

    We are constantly bombarded withstatistics and probabilities of some eventoccurring in our lives. The media is fullof statistics such as the probability ofgetting some form of cancer, beingkilled in a traffic accident, and theperennial benchmark for risk, beingstruck by lightning! The BASH teamroutinely reports the statistics for bird-strikes, but as an aviator do you knowwhat chance you have of striking a birdor suffering a Class A or B birdstrike?

    HQ AFSC Photo by TSgt Michael FeatherstonPhoto Illustration by Dan Harman

  • September 2002 FLYING SAFETY 19

    The benefits

    of AHAS are


    time detec-

    tion and


    of birds in

    the atmos-


    continued on next page

    sonnel over those of a potential adver-sary. We are not as accepting of badodds in combat as it may seem at firstglance. Overwhelming power, beyond-visual-range-detection, AWACS andother reconnaissance resources, stealth,electronic warfare and a host of otherhardware and tactics are all designed tostack the odds in favor of our militaryforces. When something goes wrong, wehave ejection seats and rescue forces toensure that our aircrews do not pay forthe risks with their lives.

    Risk management and risk assessmentis now institutionalized in the way wetrain for combat through OperationalRisk Management (ORM). The AvianHazard Advisory System (AHAS) is thebest means we currently have of assess-ing the risk of a birdstrike in near-realtime. We can make long-range riskassessments with the United States BirdAvoidance Model (US BAM), (but thislacks the real-time input of a radar sen-sor actually detecting birds aloft that wehave with AHAS). If you want to knowif a range or low-level route is likely tobe bird-plagued days, weeks or monthsin advance, then the US BAM is the besttool to use.

    What is the US BAM?The US BAM is a predictive model of

    birdstrike risk using GeographicInformation System (GIS) technology tocorrelate bird survey data with environ-mental geospatial data. The model con-sists of GIS raster grids, which span thecontiguous United States. The value foreach cell (or pixel) is equivalent to thesum of the mean bird mass, for allspecies present during a particular dailytime period for each of 26 biweekly peri-ods in a year. This model, based on his-torical data, clearly indicates wherebirds are concentrated during any two-week period of the year.

    What is AHAS?AHAS has two main components.

    The first component is a forecast ofbird activity for large soaring birds,such as vultures, and waterfowl, suchas geese and swans. Forecasts aremade twice a day for the next twenty-four hours using meteorological data.The second component is the currentobservation of bird activity. This ismade using NEXRAD weather radar

    data. Special computer algorithms areused to detect bird activity in theNEXRAD data. Locations of birds arematched to the birdstrike risk for thearea and time given by the US BAM.AHAS can therefore determine timesand locations when the US BAMshows an area to be bird-saturated butno birds are actually present in theatmosphere. The benefits of AHAS arenear-real-time detection and verifica-tion of birds in the atmosphere; theseenable better utilization of airspaceand more effective birdstrike riskmanagement than just using the USBAM. The US BAM may show an areaas "severe" for a two-week period.AHAS, by contrast, may show birds inthe same area to be "active" on threeor four days of that same two-weekperiod. The flight performance ofbirds, like aircraft, is affected byweather conditions. For example,migrant birds are unlikely to movewith a headwind or in rain. Duringthese periods of bird inactivity, train-ing can be conducted with lower bird-strike risk than on the days whenweather conditions favor bird activity.

    Whats the probability of birdstrike?In 2001, the BASH Team collected

    3766 birdstrike reports. That meansthe USAF reported an average of 72birdstrikes per week. In the worstmonth, USAFE accumulates aboutthree times more birdstrikes aroundthe airfield (328 per 100,000 flyinghours) than PACAF (128 per 100,000flying hours). Try to think of anotherflying safety statistic with a rate ashigh as that for birdstrikes. In the bestmonths, strike rates fall as low as 23for USAFE and 32 for PACAF per100,000 flying hours. Birdstrikes are acommon event even in the USA.AETC had a rate between 56 and 193reported birdstrikes per 100,000 flyinghours per month. Flying low-levelmissions where speeds and the result-ing impact forces are higher increasesthe risk of birdstrike damage. In theirworst month (August), AFSOC report-ed 408 birdstrikes per 100,000 flyinghours. This high rate, more than 4times higher than the worst month forACC, is due in part to AFSOC flyinglow-level missions in large aircraft(AC/MC-130).

  • 20 FLYING SAFETY September 2002

    AHAS and

    the US BAM

    provide a



    ment of


    risk across

    the CONUS.

    this may require the use of aerial refuel-ing to reach more distant routes andranges. Advanced planning is requiredto assure the availability of refuelingassets. The US BAM can be a key plan-ning tool to ensure that potential haz-ards have been identified and mitiga-tion considered.

    Some forward planning and under-standing of locations likely to be hotspots for bird activity can make mitigat-ing birdstrike risks easy to accommo-date. Knowing that Dare County rangeis a hot spot for bird migration,Seymour Johnson AFB has madearrangements to have high-resolutionmobile radar on site this fall. This willenable them to monitor the distributionof birds and better manage their air-space and training time. Forward plan-ning can minimize the impact of birdhazard restrictions on achieving mis-sion-training goals.

    Does your local BASH Plan use theavailable tools for reducing bird-strike risk?

    If you answer "No" to any of the fol-lowing questions, then you may need torevise your local BASH plan.

    1. Does your local BASH Plan directaircrews to use the US BAM to identifylevels of birdstrike risk when planningan exercise or deployment in the lower48 states?

    2. Does your local BASH Plan directaircrews to use AHAS to identify cur-rent birdstrike risks before conductinglow-altitude flights or training onbombing/weapons ranges?

    3. Does your local BASH Plan pro-vide guidance to aircrews on how tomanage risk during periods of increasedbird activity?

    4. Does your local BASH Plan pro-vide for regular training to your air-crews in the use of AHAS, the US BAMand local procedures for birdstrike riskmanagement?

    Having a comprehensive BASH planis a good first step, but it must be imple-mented and used by aircrews in all day-to-day training missions. To go back torisk and human behavior, we generallyavoid areas we know will be congestedduring rush hour. Similarly, we shouldavoid the "rush hour" when many birdsare active. In general terms, this is themigratory season, and when birds

    AHAS does not provide recommen-dations for managing birdstrike risks

    The nature of birdstrike risk changesfor each aircraft type, model and mis-sion profile. Therefore, AHAS does notdirect pilots whether or not to train inan area, but simply quantifies the levelof birdstrike risk. A composite airframesuch as the B-2 or F-117 is much morefrangible than an aircraft constructedwith conventional materials. A single-engine fighter is more vulnerable thana twin-engine aircraft (F-16 vs. F-15),and smaller jet engines are more easilydamaged than larger, high bypassengines (T-38 vs. KC-135R). A squadronthat will shortly deploy overseas andfaces the potential for combat missionsis more likely to accept birdstrike riskin conducting realistic training missionprofiles than one conducting routinetraining. Each base and squadron mustconduct an ORM review and developbirdstrike risk management proceduresbased upon their aircraft type, missionprofile and training requirements.AHAS and the US BAM provide a con-sistent measurement of birdstrike riskacross the CONUS. Each mission candetermine the level of risk they arewilling to accept against a standardscale and what risk management proce-dures they implement when that levelof risk is reached.

    What are the risk management optionsduring increased bird activity?

    Risk management to lower birdstrikescomprises two basic alternatives: Eitherchange the location or change the timeof the flight. A third option is to selectaltitudes with less bird activity, but nei-ther AHAS nor the US BAM has an alti-tude component. It used to be said thatincreasing altitude reduced birdstrikerisk. For example, if birdstrike risk washigh on a low-level route, then flying at1500 feet was safer than at 500 feet. Attimes, the distribution of birds supportsthis theory. Using high-resolutionradars we have found that during somebird migration or soaring events youcould be exposed to fewer birds at 500feet than at 1500 feet. In the absence ofreliable altitude data, we recommendchanging routes, skipping a portion of aroute or changing the time of day as theprimary means of risk management. Tomeet training goals and requirements,

  • September 2002 FLYING SAFETY 21

    Avian radar


    can detect

    birds at air-

    ports in


    and provide



    in the


    and depar-

    ture corri-


    move from roosting to feeding groundson a daily basis. The best tools to under-stand when this occurs are the US BAMfor long range planning and AHAS fornear-real-time assessments of birdactivity aloft.

    What is the future for AHAS andBirdstrike Risk Management?

    AHAS is currently being expandedto encompass all of the lower 48 states.The progress of this expansion hasbeen delayed by constraints in therelease of funds this financial year. Inthe past year AHAS has improvedfrom 60-minute to 30-minute updates.To maintain the reliability of AHAScomputers, which run 24 hours a day,365 days a year, they must be replacedafter three years of service. Theincreasing speeds of replacement com-puters will allow AHAS updates of 15minutes in the coming years.

    The AHAS system is based at theAvian Research Laboratory in PanamaCity, Fla., where work is being con-ducted with small high-resolutionradars for measuring bird activity atairports and landfills. Avian radartechnology can detect birds at airportsin real-time and provide altitude infor-mation in the approach and departurecorridors. Six months ago, our soft-ware could detect birds in relativelycoarse radar data after 20 seconds ofprocessing. Now, we can detect birdsin high-resolution radar data in twoseconds. This high-resolution, real-time, avian radar technology is sched-uled to be deployed on the first mili-tary airfields this winter. The key tothis technology has been our develop-ment of a faster and more efficientcomputer algorithm to detect bird tar-gets in clear air, as well as in rain andin ground clutter. The improvementsin the avian radar software will bereplicated to improve the algorithmsused in AHAS. This will againdecrease the time between risk updatesand improve the quality of the infor-mation that is available for birdstrikerisk assessments.

    At the Avian Research Laboratory,we are also working with other groupsto obtain higher resolution NEXRADradar data. In the past, network band-width constraints limited the resolu-tion of NEXRAD data transmitted

    from each NEXRAD station. The high-er resolution data is currently availableon an experimental network of 40NEXRAD stations. We are developingalgorithms to process the higher reso-lution data, which will allow us tomore accurately determine the loca-tions of the most hazardous concentra-tions of birds, such as large waterfowl.This improved data is most likely to beused first in development of the USBAM. As the experimental networkbecomes an operational system for useby meteorologists, the AHAS systemcan quickly incorporate the improveddataset. The availability of high-speed,high-bandwidth networks of radardata also opens up the possibility ofadding airport surveillance radars tothe network. These additional radarsystems may help to fill in gaps in thecoverage, provide more detailed mea-surements where coverage overlaps,and provide redundancy when a radargoes out of service.

    At the Avian Research Laboratory,weve made dramatic advancements inour radar bird detection capabilities.The AHAS system today provides thebest available tool for ORM of birdstrikehazards. The limitations of the currentsystem, in terms of frequency of updatesand data resolution, are constantlybeing improved. AHAS benefits fromthe development of small-scale, high-resolution bird radars and the data theycollect to ground-truth larger radarssuch as NEXRAD. More accurate moni-toring and forecasting of bird hazardswill allow more training during low-risk periods.

    Incorporating the use of AHAS inyour local BASH plan and missionplanning routines will reduce the over-all risk of a damaging birdstrike. Likedivorce or lightning strikes, we cannotprevent birdstrikes from occurring. Byknowing the risks of a birdstrike anddeveloping procedures that reduce thatrisk, we can fly safer and protect ouraircrews and our increasingly scarceaircraft assets. Over the past 10 years,the USAF reported an average of 1.6Class A and 10.6 Class B birdstrikesannually. Birdstrikes are frequentlyreported events and do result in signifi-cant damage. AHAS can help to reducethe probability that a serious birdstrikewill happen to you.

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