FAA tests radar for spotting birds flocking around airports

FAA tests radar for spotting birds flocking around airports

The Federal Aviation Administration is reviewing a portable radar for use with a system to avoid bird-aircraft collisions.

The agency finished testing the bird strike radar last week at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. FAA is studying the results to determine if the radar is technically feasible and practical for operational use. The small portable radar, with a three-mile range, can track flocks of birds and report hazard conditions for arriving and departing aircraft, FAA officials said.

Earlier this month, an American Airlines flight had to make an emergency landing at Chicago's O'Hare Airport after geese that were apparently sucked into the engine at takeoff caused a fire. The plane landed safely, and there were no injuries.

The radar would be deployed with the National Bird Strike Advisory System, which FAA is developing to alert pilots and airports in near-real-time of the risk of birds colliding with planes. The system checks bird radar data against historical data from the airport and from the FAA National Wildlife Strike Database, which the FAA maintains at the William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, N.J.

FAA's Office of Aviation Research and its Airport Technology R&D Branch developed the radar under the Dual Use Science and Technology program. The Air Force, the University of Illinois, and Waveband Corp. of Irvine, Calif., also participate in the program.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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