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August 25, 2012

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Airports in joint action to prevent bird strikes

AIRPORT authorities in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou are employing new methods of scaring away birds after a number of collisions with aircraft recently.

The new methods they have jointly developed include splashing insecticide near runways to kill insects so there is no food for birds to look for and releasing a special repellent with a smell birds can't stand, the Shanghai Airport Authority said yesterday.

Other measures employed include playing recordings of natural predators and setting off explosive charges. Nets are being installed to prevent birds approaching in search of water or food.

"The bird-strike conditions are under control at the city's Hongqiao and Pudong international airports," the authority said.

Bird strikes are among the most common problems, occurring when birds and aircraft collide during takeoff or landing. If the birds are sucked into engines, there can be serious malfunctions.

At least three collisions between birds and passenger aircraft have happened at the Pudong airport since July, forcing planes to change their flight schedules and causing delays.

In the latest case, United Airlines canceled its UA858 flight to San Francisco due to a bird strike on Tuesday.

The bird hit and damaged the engine of the Boeing 747 aircraft when it was taxiing before takeoff.

In another case, a Spring Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing last Saturday after colliding with a bird a few minutes after it took off. One of the plane's two engines was damaged.

Bird strikes happen often in summer in coastal cities such as Shanghai when birds are arriving to breed, said Chen Zhi, a manager with China Eastern Engineering and Technology Co.

Chen said noise from aircraft engines would frighten birds into flight, increasing the risk of a collision.

At the Pudong airport, herons can be seen flying beside the aircraft. The recent Typhoon Haikui destroyed nests, prompting the birds to move closer to the airport, the airport authority said.

Yuan Xiao, deputy director of the Shanghai Wildlife Conservation Station, said the airport was built next to the herons' wetland home.


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