How Some Tall Grass Might Stop Birds Hitting Planes

In the hustle of travel these days we see lots of problems. Airport security. Missing connections. Overcrowded flights. Lost luggage. Bad airport food. The list goes on. But rarely do we think about one of the bigger problems in aviation: birds.

Not in the Alfred Hitchcock sense. But birds, especially larger birds, pose a serious safety risk to both planes and passengers. Each year planes collide with birds, causing damage to the planes and posing a potential accident hazard. Up until now there weren’t a lot of ways to prevent the bird strikes short of killing the birds or making sure the planes could withstand a bird-strike. Unfortunately both solutions could be expensive, and from a bird’s perspective, not ideal!

Fortunately there is some good news to be had. As the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. And in this case, innovation may be just what some local birds were hoping for.

The Dayton airport is experimenting with a new bird management technique: tall grass.

How does it work? Well, it turns out that most of the birds that cause damage to airplanes view tall grass as a danger. They learn to see tall grass as a place where predators might lie in wait, therefore, the birds learn to avoid the area. In other words,there’s an instinctual response that birds have to the tall grass that may end up saving them as well as preventing damages to to airplanes.

If this works, it means that airports could have a low-cost solution to a dangerous problem. It also means that both birds and planes would be safe. It might even mean I can convince my wife that I’m not neglecting the lawn, I’m just making it safer for planes to fly.