Israeli Air Force - The Middle East is strategically located at the juncture of three continents. As a result, it is a "bottleneck" into which all or a large part of the world population of certain soaring species concentrate during spring and autumn, as well as hundreds of millions of other birds. The concentration of an extremely large mass of birds has created a severe flight safety problem for Israel Air Force aircraft and its pilots. More than 500 million birds cross Israel's narrow airspace… twice every year. Many of these birds overnight at or near IAF airbases where some stay days, and even months, to “refuel” before continuing their long migration.
BCP has been the key entity to develop the wildlife control protocols for the entire Israeli Air Force (IAF) from the ground up. Prior to BCP’s involvement with the IAF, average annual damage to IAF aircraft due to birds at the Israeli airbases was roughly US $10.3 million/year. Since the implementation of BCP’s wildlife management protocols and guidelines more than 9 years ago, the IAF has only suffered a total of US $82,000 in damage combined for all major airbases that have implemented the program (or roughly US $8,400/year). As a result of the resounding success achieved, the IAF has now implemented BCP’s program and protocols at all major airbases throughout the entire country. As a crucial component of his program, the IAF initiated major changes in habitat management at its airfields, eliminated agricultural initiatives and underwent large-scale modifications in airfield maintenance practices. Additionally, the IAF altered flight and ground operations where possible to attenuate the risk imposed by birds and coordinated efforts within a wide range of departments at each airbase to address bird strike control issues. Awareness and the resolve to eliminate wildlife hazards at its airfields remain key features of the IAF’s new directive on bird strike prevention that BCP developed.
Over the past twenty years, the Israeli Air Force focused its attention in bird strike prevention on collisions between aircraft and migrating birds during low-level flight operations. Only in the last 9 years has the IAF begun to tackle the problem of reducing bird-aircraft collisions at or near its airfields. A dramatic shift in thinking has led the IAF to initiate complete wildlife control programs at the direction of BCP at its airbases, featuring full wildlife control protocols to help eliminate the risk of wildlife collisions within the control zone (CTR) of each of its airfields.
BCP’s Israeli Air Force wildlife control program has shown dramatic improvements in the reduction of bird strike hazards at its airbases. There has been an overall 82% reduction of birdstrikes within the CTR at IAF airbases. The most important result is obviously the bottom line – there have been only six total minor damaging bird strikes to aircraft in the four years since the commencement of the wildlife control program. The threat of a serious bird strike has been greatly reduced by the elimination of larger birds from the airfields and a 3-km. radius outside the airbases, as well as the overall reduction of major bird populations on the AOA.
BCP serves as the IAF’s point-of-contact for expertise in the prevention of wildlife strike hazards for the entire Air Force. BCP is responsible for the development of research programs to reduce bird strike potential around airfields and has run the IAF’s birdstrike prevention program for the last nine years.
US Air Force Special Operation Command (AFSOC) - On October 1, 2004, AFSOC contracted with BCP to provide a comprehensive wildlife control program. This program combined the technical expertise and knowledge of Masters and PhD level wildlife biologist employees as the primary method of wildlife control and habitat management on the airfield. All harassment conducted by BCP’s personnel is non-lethal and conservation friendly.
Hurlburt Field, AFSOC headquarters, is located in the Panhandle of northwest Florida with its southern border directly on the Gulf of Mexico. Specifically, the airfield and surrounding base property lie between the Mississippi and Atlantic flyways (major migration routes) with its low-level training areas to the north also falling within these flyway confines. There is also an east-west and west-east migration zone along the coastline. Past birdstrike data indicated that 87% of Hurlburt birdstrikes occurred in the low level/final approach environment and often around fall migration, with a smaller peak during spring migration.
After the first three years of the program, there have been two notable trends. First, there has been a dramatic drop in repair costs associated with birdstrikes. Second, the number of actual birdstrikes to AFSOC aircraft has steadily increased each year.
Annual totals in the number of birdstrikes actually show an increase (FY ‘04 - 105, FY ‘05 – 122, FY 06 – 136) and are explained specifically by increased and more accurate wildlife strike reporting since the initiation of the new wildlife control protocols. Upon close examination of this trend, it should be noted that BCP personnel, during their sweeps around the airfield, found numerous carcasses that were otherwise unreported birdstrikes. These are birds that Hurlburt aircraft were hitting all along, however no one realized it and thus, were not being reported. Studies at JFK International Airport between 1979 and 1998 showed that more than 87% of all birdstrikes were not reported since carcasses were not included in the data and only 24% of all species being struck were actually noted. The USAF estimates that only approximately 20 to 25 percent of all birdstrikes are actually reported.
Also, according to FAA, USAF and USDA data trends, it is generally accepted that wildlife strikes will increase each year due to increase in air traffic (civilian and military), as well as dramatic increases in the wildlife populations worldwide. Risk, frequency and potential severity of wildlife-aircraft collisions are expected to escalate over the next decade.
Additional wildlife services and technical expertise provided to AFSOC by BCP have included reviewing low-level routes to de-conflict the low-level training routes with migratory patterns and high bird concentrations, coordinating with Civil Engineering (CE) natural resources personnel to obtain all necessary permits for depredation, trapping, etc., and providing briefings on Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard (BASH) issues/awareness at quarterly Airfield Operations Board (AOB), Safety, Occupational Safety and Health (OSH), and maintenance/flying squadrons meetings. The impact of this expertise has also played a key role in the success seen in the overall wildlife control program.
Accomplishments and reductions in costs as a result of the wildlife control services provided by BCP’s program at Hurlburt Airfield have been dramatic and resulted in being recognized in a variety of awards and acknowledgements of performance. They include:
- FY05 90% reduction in repair cost for bird strikes
- FY 06 95% reduction in repair costs due to damaging wildlife strikes at Hurlburt Airfield. Note: Three FY06 damaging bird strikes occurred away from Hurlburt Field over low-level training routes
- FY05 80% reduction in pyrotechnic usage
- FY06 85-90% reduction in pyrotechnic usage
- 100% reduction in necessity for lethal control measures (LCM)
- 100% reduction in deer strikes and runway incursions by deer drastically reduced
- FY05 Hurlburt Airfield experienced Bird Watch Condition (BWC) “Severe” only 3-4 times in the entire year
- FY06 Hurlburt Airfield never declared BWC “Severe” i.e. No interruption to airfield operations, as it related to wildlife control
- FY 05, FY 06, FY 07, FY 08, and FY 09 AFSOC Safety office of the Year Awarded
- FY 05 AFSOC Outstanding Achievement in Safety awarded to BCP wildlife control program
- BCP wildlife control personnel recognized and singled out by HQ AFSOC Air Traffic Safety Evaluation Program (ATSEP) Inspection Team as a “Superior Performer” – only one of two recognized
- BCP's program was a key part of the Air Force General Thomas D. White Natural Resources Conservation Award presented to CE in FY 05
In FY 09, BCP was awarded the "AFSOC COMMANDO SAFETY MEDALLION".
The Director of Safety uses this award to immediately recognize and record only the most significant safety acts, accomplishments, and leadership of lasting value to the command's safety program, or longstanding and extraordinary achievements and contributions to safety.
Any individual nominated for this award must reflect the highest standards expected of Air Force members. Commanders within the chain-of-command below the Director of Safety must certify the potential awardee achieves the highest standards in all respects.