USDA biologist designs drop net system to reduce aviation bird strikes

23 August 2018 (Last Updated August 23rd, 2018 13:01)

Safety teams from the US Air Force (USAF) are working with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop a solution that will help safeguard aircraft from bird strikes.

USDA biologist designs drop net system to reduce aviation bird strikes
Wildlife biologist Ted Pepps in front of the new drop net bird trap. Credit: Staff Sgt Joshua King.

Safety teams from the US Air Force (USAF) are working with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop a solution that will help safeguard aircraft from bird strikes.

Teams will work jointly with an aim to reduce the presence of birds on and around airfields, saving an average of more than $3m for the USAF every year in repairing aircraft damages.

Based on an existing solution used for catching birds at a few stateside installations in the airforce, USDA wildlife biologist Ted Pepps has developed a new drop net system suitable for use at the US Air Forces Central Command.

“The system has been designed to horizontally suspend a 15ft-by-15ft net between electromagnets that draw power from a car battery.”

Pepps said: “The drop net is a mass capture device. It allows us to catch more birds in a shorter amount of time.”

Pepps added: “This is a big deal in the area of responsibility because there are a lot of sensitive areas. Areas that we can’t shoot guns or pyrotechnics, so this [system] will fill that void.”

The system has been designed to horizontally suspend a 15ft-by-15ft net between electromagnets that draw power from a car battery.

Using a remote similar to a garage door opener, the operator can capture unsuspecting birds by dropping the net flat on to the ground. Between 50 and 100 birds can be caught at the same time.

Once trapped within the drop net, the birds will be safely removed from the area.

The entire drop net system is mobile and can be easily used in different locations in order to ensure that it can be used wherever the birds relocate, Pepps noted.