KANSAS CITY, Mo. — This week marks 13 years since the famous “Miracle on the Hudson” where birds were sucked into the engine of a U.S. Airways flight from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Charlotte, North Carolina.
Minutes after take off, Capt. Sully Sullenberger guided the plane to a safe landing in New York City’s Hudson River.
Birds cause hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to planes all across the nation every year.
Modern commercial engines like the Boeing 777 can ingest a bird as big as 8 pounds, but a bigger bird has the ability to pull down a full-size plane.
That’s why there’s a team dedicated to ensuring that doesn’t happen at the Kansas City International Airport.
“There’s really no winners in a bird strike,” said Trevor Kahler with USDA Wildlife Services. “It’s not going to be good for the bird. It’s not going to be good for the plane. It’s not gonna be any good for anybody involved. But there’s going to be significant costs.”
The creatures are not only costly but also capable of causing life or death consequences. That’s why clearing them out has become a priority.
“It all comes down to the human lives and safety on the airfield, so Trevor, or USDA, is here for the protection of those passengers,” said Bob Johnson, KCI Airport’s operations manager.
But just how does the team avoid this problem? For more than two decades they’ve run a mitigation process as well as adding in more defenses.
“Exclusion devices, such as the fencing, make sure the fencing around the airfield is maintained, being proactive with pyrotechnics and things like that to keep to keep birds from getting used to being here,” Kahler said.
But their job extends past just birds to deer and more.
KCI Airport ranks in the top 5 in the country in bird strikes. Officials pointed to the fact they report 100% of the time. All in all, they strive to keep the airfields safe and clear of wildlife.
“The goal for me would be just to have the airport managed in a way that prevents the wildlife from being attracted and drawn to the area in the first place,” Kahler said.
Even though a bird can pull down a plane, KCI officials said their mitigation strategies work, so you’re safe to fly.
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