A Study of the Bird Strike Prevention Management


Write a proposal and dissertation on the topic "A study of the bird strike prevention management for airport operation with focus on Hong Kong International Airport".

A study of the bird strike prevention management for airport operation with focus on Hong Kong International Airport

Literature Review


In aviation industry, a bird strike is typically defined as the collision between an aircraft and a bird. Incidents of bird strikes have been reported since the very birth years of aviation, with this very first recorded case being that of the Wright Brothers in 1905. With years, the rapid growth of air traffic, increase in the population of different birds, development of aircrafts with improved sound management, are a few of the reasons for such increase in the number of bird strikes. In 2013 alone, more than 10, 8556 cases of bird strikes were recorded in United States. Though a large number of steps have been adopted, singularly these have failed to curb the phenomenon. Hence, it is of critical importance to develop newer means of preventing bird collisions with aircrafts, as such would protect the bird population and also help aviation industry economically as well (Dale, 2009). In this literature review, first leading published work on this topic would be analyzed to understand the causes, effects and severity of bird strikes and then information would be gathered regarding prevention management systems present worldwide in international airports.


A bird strike, often known as BASH or Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard is a direct collision between a manmade vehicle, especially aircraft with that of a bird or a bat. This term also applies to the bird deaths which occur from such collisions with structures namely, towers, turbines, power lines etc. Flight safety gets seriously compromised on occasions of bird strikes, and history has witnessed a number of accidents which resulted in human casualties. Maybe, the number of major accidents involving commercial aircrafts is low, but it has been estimated that approximately 1 accident results in human death per one billion flight hours, related to bird flight (Thorpe, 2003). Though the majority of these bird strikes puts little damage to the aircraft, it almost certainly proves to be fatal for the birds (Milson, 1995).
Most of these accidents result when there is a direct collision between the bird and the windscreen of the aircraft or when a bird gets pulled into the engines of an aircraft. Annual damages resulting from this has been estimated up to $ 400 million within alone United States and worldwide results in a minimum of $ 1.2 billion dollars in 2009, and can be estimated to have grown by manifold in the last decade (Allan & Orosz, 2009). Apart from this economic losses alone, bird strikes with aircrafts and other manmade structures acts as a contributing factor for the decline of a number of avian species.  The ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) reported a total case of 65, 139 bird collisions between the years 2011 to 2014. FAA or the Federal Aviation Authority totally presented a statistics of 177269 strikes with aircrafts between the years 1990 and 2015 amongst which bird strikes comprised of 97% of the total number of collisions.
As per the Federal Aviation Administration, more than 50 of the bird strikes occur during the months of July to October per year, and that is the time for young birds to leave their nests and the fall migration starts. Statistics indicate that more than 70% of the bird strike collisions occur near the altitude of 500 feet above ground and around 94% of the collisions occur below the height 2500 feet thereby indicating, landing and take-off are phases which are critical to the bird strikes and when most of the strikes take place.
The aircraft’s front facing parts namely, the windshield, edges of wing lead random, empennage, forward facing fuselages, propellers etc are more prone to bird strikes and are vulnerable (Marra, et al., 2009). Also it has been observed that more than 28% of the bird strikes the engine and around 26% of the total bird strikes impacts the wings making such areas of the aircraft extremely damaged due to the bird strikes. Hence, FAA has demanded extra provision of protection to be present in all the forward facing components of the aircrafts.
The causes of increased bird strikes can be directly attributed to the fact that aviation industry has boomed like never before and air traffic is growing at a rapid rate with every passing year. However, this is not the single reason behind the phenomenon of bird strikes. The second reason, for such increase is the very growth in the population of different species of large birds. Between the years of 1990 and 2013, common bird species which were responsible for majority of air strikes were eagles, hawks, vultures and waterfowl. In total there were more than 500 bird species which were confirmed to be associated with collisions with aircrafts. Since then wildlife data depicts that growth has been observed in the population of a large number of big birds species namely, bald eagles, while pelicans, sandhill cranes, wild turkeys etc (Dolbeer, 2009). As per Dolbeer et al, in 2014, their paper identified that only the species of snow goose population in North America grew from 2.1 million to that of 6.6 million in the last decade (Dolbeer, Seubert, & Begier, 2014). Nicholson and Reed in 2011 in their studies highlighted that the amount of damage which is caused in a typical bird collision directly is linked to the overall mass of the striking object. Hence, the already mentioned big birds would definitely cause more damage to the aircrafts when collision occurs. The Hudson river emergency landing of A320 airbus in 2009 as mentioned earlier is a perfect example of such. This incident proved the actual seriousness of bird and wildlife strikes to the safety of passengers and pilots travelling in the flight (Dolbeer, 2011).
Another major reason for the high incidence of aircraft strikes can be attributed to the development of new models of aircrafts having twin engines and turbine power which are more powerful than the older models and are way quieter than their previous predecessors. These present day aircrafts are stronger and safer but at the same time is very difficult for birds to detect the presence due to the silent nature (Dove, Rotzel, Heacker, & Weigt, 2008). In 1965 only 13% of the total fleet of turbine powered and had only 2 to 4 twin engine attached aircrafts. In comparison to such, within 4 decades around 92% of the total fleet is made up of twin engine aircrafts (Avrenli & Dempsey, 2014). Hence, with that of increase in the bird population and aviation traffic, the modern advancements of technology increased the probability of more bird strikes with time.

Critical Appraisal

This segment of the literature review would be presented in full detail in the actual dissertation and would have accounts of published relevant studies conducted on the same topic and on reduction of bird strikes and overall prevention management. Example can be cited of the work published by Barras et al in 2002, which summarized the findings on different techniques of habitat management in order to reduce wildlife strikes (Barras & Seamans, 2002). The components of habitat which attract wildlife are – cover food, water, loafing areas etc. Creating and maintaining tall herbaceous vegetation in the empty stretches of airport can reduce the degree of loafing and feeding sites of some species but at the same time can prove to be more attractive for other hazardous species. Hence maintaining the ideal level and height of vegetation require further studies and investigations to arrive at an optimum outcome.
Anghileri et al in 2009 analyzed the very feasibility of different models like SPH Model, Eulerian and ALE Model, NM Model etc as means to investigate the very impact of bird strikes on the airframe of a turbofan. Finally, SPH model was identified which was found to be most suitable to accurately analyze the very dynamics of the event and can be used successfully to develop and design effective and efficient bird – proof structures (Anghileri, Castelletti, Molinelli, & Motta, 2009).

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This segment shall summarize the findings of the literature review thus conducted in this proposal. For the purpose of this proposal, a segment of the topic was reviewed and it was found that with time and technological advancements, aviation traffic is gradually growing. And this is resulting in a large number of bird strikes and wildlife strikes with aircrafts per year. Such strikes cause external and internal damage to the machineries of aircrafts and seriously threaten the safety of the passengers for civil carriers and the pilots and staff as well, alongside bringing fatal outcomes for the birds or wildlife. Hence, need for prevention is required to avoid from unnecessary fatalities and to save millions of dollars on damage repair.     
While conducting the literature review, another factor arose, that with advancements of technology, bird strikes have increased as today’s aircrafts make less noise and hence birds and other wildlife creatures do not get notified by the lack of sound. This also serves as a key cause for increased bird strike incidents. However, due to the lack of time and other resources, in detail prevention management could not be handled but will be critically analyzed in the actual dissertation paper.

Research Methodology

Research Design

For the purpose of this paper, both primary as well as secondary research is proposed to be carried out. Secondary research is carried out in the form of Literature Review whereby best practices from all around the globe will be identified and analyzed. Primary research to be conducted will be inductive in nature, i.e, it would start from the creation of a research hypothesis, and then research design will be determined and deployed to test such hypothesis (Ouyang, 2001).

Research Hypotheses

Research hypothesis is a statement which provides the entire research’s outcome and consists of two statements – Null Hypothesis and Alternative Hypothesis (Vakkari, Pennanen, & Serola, 2003). It would be the aim of this inductive research to test the alternative hypothesis which consists of the statement which as the prime assumption of the researcher and on the other hand, null hypothesis forms the statement which is accepted by the researchers as a fact.
Null Hypothesis (Ho) – Bird strike is a rising problem and prevention mechanisms are required in Hong Kong International Airport to curb this problem
Alternative Hypothesis (Ha) – Bird strike is not a risking problem and prevention mechanisms are not required in Hong Kong International Airport to curb this problem

Nature of Research

The primary research to be conducted has the aim to understand the severity of the problem of bird strikes; the problems with airport officials face in controlling the bird population; the practices which are in use and the recommended solutions and to overall understand the problem in terms of passenger safety, property control and also to save ecological balance. Hence, the research needs to be conducted in two levels – one from the level of airport ground staff who deals with these issues and also with aviation experts present in China and especially Hong Kong who are aware of this issue and has the industry and domain expertise to comment on such. Hence, two primary researches are to be conducted – first a qualitative research on industry experts and secondly a quantitative research on airport ground employees.

Research Instrument

Research instruments chosen are interviews for qualitative research and questionnaire for quantitative research. Interviews would be conducted through Skype and questionnaires and feedback collected through emailing the respondents directly.

Population & Sampling

Sampling is done through snowball method for both qualitative and quantitative research. For qualitative research, the same size is kept at 5, as the time taken for qualitative research is more, and including a bigger sample size would not be allowed by the purview of this paper. For quantitative research, the sample size is kept at 25 and consists of employees hailing from different branches of HK International airport operations.

Ethical Considerations

All the ethical considerations are to be followed, and permission and acknowledgement from the respondents would be considered prior to the start of the research. Details of ethical considerations considered would be mentioned in the research paper. Consent from the respondents; privacy, anonymity and confidentiality of the respondents and clauses of advocacy and intervention etc are to be followed (Salkind, 2010).

Reliability & Validity

Reliability of the research instruments used and internal as well as external validity of the information gathered are to be ascertained in detail in the research process.


Information uncovered

This section would consist of the information obtained from the secondary research and primary research and such would be analyzed through quantitative and qualitative research tools and final findings would be derived upon.

Construct Validity

Construct validity is achieved when the findings of the research paper accurately answer the research objectives and no question is left unattended (Trujillo & Taylor, 2001). If such a situation is achieved, it is known that construct validity is achieved. It is the aim of every research paper to achieve construct validity, as achieving such means, the objectives have been met with and the research conducted has successfully been done on the right track (Zikmund & Babin, 2006). In the research paper, post findings, an account of the construct validity would be presented.


This segment would consist of a summarization of all the key findings again and from the findings, it would present a list of probable recommendation strategies which will help in the prevention management of bird strikes. Since, the focus is going to be on Hong Kong International Airport, recommendation strategies would be specific and applicable on such with the aim of considerable reduction in the number of wildlife strikes against aircrafts.


Assumptions & Limitations

Assumptions are a number of aspects which are considered to be true as facts by researchers prior to conducting the research (Yilmaz, 2013). The assumptions considered for this paper are as follows;
-    The candidates chosen for both qualitative and quantitative research have clear understanding about the phenomenon of bird strikes and have their own idea about how to eradicate such a phenomenon
-    The sample chosen for the research are honest in their intention and providing knowledge known best to them and not modifying responses to guard the image of their employer
-    The candidates chosen for the research have crystal clear understanding regarding the implications of the questions in the questionnaire
Along with assumptions there are a number of factors which limit the success of every research paper, and are known as the limitations of research (Wilkinson, 2003);
-    Constraints of time, money and effort play a crucial role and hence the sample size was kept at a bare minimum of 25 employees for quantitative research and 5 for Qualitative research.
-    Hong Kong International Airport employs a large number of employees. Respondents for this research paper were selected through snowball sampling and chances are that the sample chosen did not represent the neutral viewpoint of the organization.
-    As all the respondents are hailing from the same employer, chances are there that, employees can manipulate their own answers in favour of their employer.
Project management issues if any
Since this is the proposal, whether any project management issues would be faced cannot be anticipated at this stage. This segment would be present in the main dissertation paper, which will highlight any issues faced by the researcher.
Social, professional and ethical issues in detail would be covered in the Research Methodology segment of the dissertation. Legal issues if any would be mentioned herein.


Appendix 1

Qualitative Research – Interview Questions
-    What is bird strike phenomenon? What are the causes behind it?
-    What is the association of wildlife/ birds with airports? How can they be kept separate?
-    What are the factors which promote bird strikes? Similarly, what strategies should be adopted to reduce such phenomenon?
-    What is a holistic prevention management? What strategies are followed by leading international airports worldwide?
-    What is the incidence of bird strikes in Hong Kong International Airport till date? What mechanisms are in place?
-    What are the most effective strategies for reducing bird strikes and incidence of birds within airports? Are they applicable to Hong Kong International Airport?
-    What are the future technologies which can bring about a change in the management of bird strikes? How will the situation be 5 years from now as per you?
To be continued..

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