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Managing the problem of leatherjacket at UK airports

| July 3, 2016

UK airports recently faced an issue due to the removal of a chemical, or to be precise the lack of knowledge regarding its avail- ability. The application of European EC Regulation 2009/128/EC, applied by the UK, led to the nationwide withdrawal of Chlorpyrifos. However, since the 1960’s chlorpyrifos had helped in the control of larvae and other soil born pests in airport grass areas. Uncontrolled, the insects provide a food source which attract birds to the areas around airports and runways. A brief investigation into the withdrawal highlighted the issue of poor industry engagement and commu- nication across the respective industries of aviation and chemicals. It is a stark reminder for regulators to ensure all stakeholders are engaged when policy changes are proposed to ensure such oversight is minimised.

Birds are liable to cause major catastrophe, especially if they hit an engine. Photo credit Mark Winterbourne

Birds are liable to cause major catastrophe, especially if they hit an engine. Photo credit Mark Winterbourne

There is a number of issues regarding the use of pesticides on airports, but the primary concern is for flight safety.

The most critical phases for an aircraft flight are landing and taking off. Individual and flocking birds pose a risk to flight safety by striking aircraft, and particularly when absorbed into engines or rotors. While most occurrences of “bird strike” (when birds come into contact with aircraft) do not have a dev- astating impact but there are occasions when they have. It is proven that a bird strike can result in the destruction of an aircraft and loss of life.

A properly trained and equipped bird/ wildlife controller should be present on the airfield for at least 15 minutes prior to any aircraft departure or arrival. Thus, if aircraft are landing or taking of at intervals of less than 15 minutes there should be a continuous presence on the airfield throughout daylight hours.

The most significant bird strike in recent times was an American aircraft which lost both engines shortly after take-off. Through luck of location and pilot skill it landed on the Hudson River and everybody survived, the aircraft however was destroyed…

This is an extract of the full article published in International Pest Control – May/June 2016 issue.

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Author: Roger Koukkoullis*
*Operations & Safety and Commercial Director, Airport Operators Association


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Category: Amenity, Special features

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