Bird strikes have spiked at Dallas Love Field, and now officials are wanting to buy a new state of the art camera system to help minimize the problem.
Every year, bird strikes are a top hazard for airline pilots. Capt. Scott Shankland, a current airline pilot based out of the metro, says it’s one of the scariest things a pilot can go through.
“Bird strikes are a major concern,” Shankland said. “Anytime it happens, a pilot only has seconds to react.”
Those strikes can cause major damage, and can even bring down a plane.
In 2009, pilots Chesley Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles had to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey due to a bird strike.
That incident is often referred to as the “The Miracle on the Hudson,” and was recently depicted in the movie Sully.
Dallas’ Director of Aviation, Mark Duebner, says bird strikes are a major concern at airports across the country.
“Trying to minimize that damage and trying to minimize that impact—that’s what airports across the country are doing all the time,” Duebner said.
So far in 2017, there have been 180 bird strikes at Love Field.
In 2016 there were 18, 120 were recorded in 2015, and in 2014 there were 83 strikes confirmed.
Duebner says being next to Bachman Lake hasn’t helped. The city has even put up signs around the area that asks patrons not to feed the birds.
“We’ve tried to reduce the nesting, we’ve tried to reduce the food source, but the fact is we’re a big open and attractive space for birds to hang out,” Duebner said.
Duebner says that bird strikes have likely fluctuated over the years because of urban development around the metro that disrupts habitats, forcing birds to relocate.
Now, Duebner and the Department of Aviation are turning to a new state of the art camera system called “Pharovision” for help.
Pharovision is an infrared system that automatically detects movement. So, if a flock of birds is spotted--the control tower will know, and air traffic can be held until the all clear is given.
“Having that information that there's a potential conflict between birds and the aircraft as early as possible, allows the control tower to make sure that it’s not sending planes into harm’s way,” Duebner said.
The system can also scan for other wildlife, drones, and people.
Dr. Nicholas Carter, the CEO of Pharovision, says that the technology was originally developed by the military to help detect small rockets in combat zones.
Carter says that the technology was recently declassified a few years ago, and has made its way into the civilian market.
Council members with the City of Dallas are expected to approve the purchase of the Pharovision camera system next week, which totals around $1.7 million when you tally maintenance and a 5-year warranty.
The money to purchase the tech would come from revenue generated by the airport.
If approved, the system should be installed in 2018 and Love Field would be the first major airport in the metro with the technology.
“For the cost, we’re getting a big bump in increased safety at Love Field,” Duebner said.
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