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Making BASH effective.

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For years, the importance of reporting bird-strike events has been preached at safety stand-downs, stressed in numerous articles, and presented at every meeting and conference possible. Why is our reporting rate still low?

As I work with Navy and Marine Corps aviation personnel around the world, I hear comments like, "The strike did not do any damage, so why report it?" or "How is the reporting of one strike going to help the program?" Well, I am here to tell you the reporting of every strike event is very important and is required by OpNavInst 3750.6. Airfield managers and biologists who try to make the airfield the safest flying environment possible need every piece of information available. This includes the reporting and identification of every damaging or nondamaging strike event, and even near-miss events.

Wildlife populations and individual species are dynamic and unpredictable. Many species of wildlife (birds and mammals) inhabit or traverse airfields, and their patterns change throughout the year. Facilities with active BASH programs depend on wildlife-strike-and-survey data to prioritize funding and management strategies. If a facility can identify the problem species, they can direct deterrent or removal efforts and initiate habitat-management programs to make the airfield safer.

Just because all that was left was a smear on the leading edge of the wing doesn't mean you don't have to report. We have established a bird-strike-remains identification partnership with the Smithsonian Institution. The Navy and Marine Corps can now identify every bird strike, on every plane, at every facility. All you have to do is wipe off the smear or collect the feathered remains and fill out the Safety Center's Web-Enabled Safety System (WESS) BASH report and send both to the Smithsonian. A word of caution here: If we (Navy and Marine Corps) do not take advantage of this Smithsonian identification contract, we will lose it. Reporting information is available at: www.safetycenter.navy.mil/aviation/operations/bash/.

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I also want to discuss a BASH-program dataset that is extremely important and definitely underused: the near-miss event. The airfield is a big area, and many of the birds are small. With development of the small, mobile, avian-radar systems, biologists can observe bird activity over large areas of the airfield, day and night. Biologists are documenting that near-miss events occur much more frequently than bird strikes. A combined dataset of bird strikes and near-miss events can provide BASH managers a more responsive metric to direct management strategies. They also can better measure the success of their program over time than by using only the bird-strike dataset.

Any near-miss event observed by a pilot or crew with a bird or any other wildlife, like a deer or coyote, should be reported. The time of day and location of the near-miss event is valuable information to BASH managers.

What is a "near-miss event"? It is anytime wildlife gets within a plane width of your aircraft. Or, you've had a near-miss when the pilot flinches and states, "What the *&%$# was that ^%$&#!!!!."

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We currently are validating the digital avian radar technology through a project funded by the Department of Defense Environmental Security Technology Certification Program. To date, tens of thousands of hours of bird tracks have been recorded at several military airfields by these avian-radar units. In reviewing many of these tracks involving birds and aircraft, it's apparent the near-miss event is a valuable statistic to consider for airfield management and aircrew safety. Initial efforts show the number of near-miss events far exceed the actual bird-strike rate by possibly several hundred to one. We plan to refine this estimate by reviewing past radar-data files and files from this year. Combined, these two datasets may prove to be the most positive program statistic in many years.

For the airfield manager and the biologist to make the airfield environment as safe as possible, they need information. This information comes in the form of reported and identified wildlife-strike events and the reporting of near-miss events.

Mr. Klope is the Navy BASH coordinator.

If you have any questions or comments on the Navy's BASH program, contact:

Matthew W. Klope

Wildlife Biologist

Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center/NAS

Whidbey Island

1115 W. Lexington St. Bldg 103

Oak Harbor, WA 98278

8360) 257-1468 (DSN 820)

E-mail: klopemw@efanw.navfac.navy.mil
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Title Annotation:BASH: Bird Animal Strike Hazard
Author:Klope, Matt
Publication:Approach
Article Type:Viewpoint essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2009
Words:718
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