There have been two mayor collisions involving birds flying into air planes at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in the last two years. Now, airport officials are taking further steps to scare away our feathered friends.
Airport Operations Director Mike Monnemacher shows off the weapons of choice in the on-going battle to scare geese, grackles and vultures. Keeping them away from jets taking off and landing.
“This is a banger and this is a screamer,” said Monnemacher as he fires the noisemakers into the air. “Noise scares most birds away.”
The airport now spends over $10,000 a year on pyrotechnics and has some success keeping birds grounded, but the Federal Aviation Administration wants better results.
Over the last 18 months, 80 birds and planes have collided around the airport. Two of those collisions damaging jets during takeoff.
“If it gets ingested into an engine that is turning at 10,000 rpm, that's not a good mix,” said Monnemacher.
In 2009, a Turkey Vulture crashed into the windshield of a Cessna. smashing glass and injuring the pilot. He was able to turn his aircraft around and land safely. But incidents like that one, are forcing the F.A.A. and airport officials to step up fowl harassment efforts.
The airport will spend $118,000 to hire a wildlife biologist to find new and better ways to shoo birds away.
“It’s a small fraction compared to the value of the airplane and the people who are on board. You don't put a price on the lives that are on board,” said Monnemacher.
Local bird watchers need not apply. The Department of Agriculture wildlife biologists will take over the bird management duties.