CAA calls for improved bird identification following birdstrikes

Date: 04 May 2010

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is today launching a campaign to emphasise the importance of obtaining identification of bird species following a birdstrike occurrence.

Correct bird identification helps airfield personnel to target the species causing most incidents when putting together habitat management programmes or other bird hazard mitigation methods that discourage birds from nesting on airfields.

However, CAA birdstrike data indicates that as much as 40 per cent of all birdstrikes reported to the CAA contain no bird species information at all. The CAA has therefore launched a campaign, aimed at those who report birdstrikes to the CAA, to make every effort to identify the species of bird involved in a strike.

The CAA will be distributing posters to UK aerodromes this week, calling for more accurate bird identification by pilots and airfield staff.

A link to the campaign poster can be found here: Birdstrike poster

Nick Yearwood, from the CAA’s Aerodrome Standards Department, said: “We believe that the lack of bird species information is adversely impacting the ability of aerodromes to accurately assess and mitigate the birdstrike risk, as well as masking potential underlying problematic changes to bird populations and consequential birdstrike trends.”

He added: “Risk management is an important element of a mature Safety Management System approach to aviation safety. Stakeholders need an understanding of the hazards and risks in order to design and implement appropriate mitigations. The first step can only be accomplished by an effective incident reporting system involving the gathering of accurate and reliable data.”

Effective airport bird management has two key elements; the removal of features that birds find attractive, and selection of the correct bird dispersal techniques. This can be achieved efficiently with more accurate identification of bird species.

The CAA, through airfield personnel training, highlights the importance of accurate bird identification and how this might be achieved locally. Current methods of bird identification include awareness of bird species in the locality, knowledge of common species involved in birdstrikes locally, or by obtaining a formal scientific analysis of bird remains from feather, carcass or DNA.

For further information please refer to CAP 772 Birdstrike Risk Management for Aerodromes, or email birdstrikes@caa.co.uk.

For media enquiries please contact the Press Office on 0207 453 6030.

Notes to Editors

1. The CAA is the UK's specialist aviation regulator. Its regulatory activities range from making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards to preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency.

2. Birdstrike reporting became mandatory in 2004. A birdstrike report must be submitted to the CAA unless the strike has already been reported as an accident or damage occurrence through the CAA’s Mandatory Occurrence Reporting (MOR) scheme. This requirement was introduced to gather more information on birdstrikes, enabling new strategies to be developed to bring the incident rate down. The online reporting form is available at: http://www.caa.co.uk/birdstrikereporting.