Taking steps to keep wildlife off RAF station runways

The new vehicle equipped with acoustic and visual detterent systems. EMN-170515-113113001
The new vehicle equipped with acoustic and visual detterent systems. EMN-170515-113113001

A fresh approach has been taken to keeping wildlife including birds, deer, and rabbits off the runway at RAF Coningsby.

The station has teamed up with independent environmental consultancies NBC Environment over the initiative.

Ian Cain, technical director at NBC Environment said: “NBC Environment has been able to bring something entirely new to the aviation sector by combining consultancy with in-house wildlife management, something that’s generally considered an add-on service by competitors in this space.”

The three-year project will see staff monitor runways to allow aircraft to take off and land without the interference of wildlife. It is being run at six stations in the UK.

Twenty new full-time staff travelling in vehicles equipped with acoustic and visual deterrent systems will monitor activity.

For example, for birds, they will play distress calls of the species that is flocking to make them believe a predator is in the vicinity. Over time, the birds will associate the vehicle with the alarm calls, making it a visual detterent also.

Ian Cain said: “A bird strike on an aeroplane or helicopter can be catastrophic both in terms of risks to human life, but also in the damage to the aircraft itself.

“The threat is compounded in a defence context because runways must be accessible 24/7 and at short notice.

“Wildlife management is a hugely important consideration for any airfield or airport.”