Seattle-Tacoma Airport Using Radar and Pyrotechnics to Keep Birds off the Runway

In the wake of the airplane crash landing in NYC's Hudson River, CNN has an interesting article about the Seattle-Tacoma Airport spending $250,000 yearly to prevent the same bird strikes that caused last month's incident.

Seattle-Tacoma airport has a wildlife biologist on staff (and has for the last 30 years) and a team of 20 assistants who take every measure to prevent birds from occupying the airspace around the runway.

At the center of their arsenal is the radar, made by Accipital, which is used to detect any flocks of birds that may be on a collision course with the airport. Using this technology, they can detect the altitude the birds are flying at, and by analyzing behavioral flight patterns, what kind of birds they're dealing with.

If they do detect any birds, the wildlife team will shine lasers (pew pew!) in the eyes of birds to mimic a predator, hopefully causing the bird to fly away.If that isn't enough, the team will ramp up their strategy with a more disruptive solution: explosive shells. What they refer to as "pyrotechnics," the shells are shot into the air and cause a considerable amount noise when they explode (one goes 1200 feet into the air and creates a thunderclap). This generally does the trick in scaring birds away.

And before you get all worked up and start emailing PETA in a panic, none of this does any harm to the birds. [CNN]