INCHEON, March 23 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea’s largest airport is going high-tech to combat bird strikes, deploying drones to keep the skies safe.
An unmanned aerial vehicle was launched on Thursday afternoon at a reservoir just 2 kilometers off the runway at Incheon Airport, as part of testing for the new bird strike prevention method.
Upon taking off, the drone flew above fields of reeds, imitating the sound of eagles and hawks crying, and scaring away birds.
Incheon Airport is the first airport in the country to trial drones for bird strike prevention purposes, following a number of bird strikes in recent months, as a crash between a bird weighing 900 grams and a plane flying at the speed of 370 kilometers per hour can have a devastating shock equivalent to a mass of 4.8 tons.
Nearly 900 bird strikes are estimated to have taken place over the last four years at airports across the country, including nine at Incheon Airport last year alone.
Though the previous incidents have involved smaller birds such as swallows and kestrels, according to officials, Incheon Airport isn’t immune to more serious bird strikes, with up to 18 types of birds thought to be inhabiting the neighboring area including coots, black-tailed gulls, auks and magpies.
While bird control workers are currently being dispatched in the areas surrounding Incheon Airport’s runway around the clock, officials are hopeful the adoption of drones in bird strike prevention work will see the risk of accidents drop.
“The newly developed drone for bird strike prevention comes with a thermographic camera that can reach areas previously hard to access such as in the woods and swamps where flocks of birds can hide.
As the drones make noises that resemble the sound of blanks shots being fired and the calls of natural enemies, Incheon Airport says birds can be dispersed more effectively.
The airport is set to introduce more drones for bird strike prevention after a trial run that ends in May.
Hyunsu Yim (email@example.com)