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By Margaret Smith

Airport Wildlife ManagementAirport Wildlife Management is not the major problem highlighted and discussed in safety management, but it has a crucial impact on airport and flies safety. In aviation, the safety is strictly controlled and measured. Airport service standards up to now have been seen in purely physical terms or in terms of design standards. But safety standards are not the same as service standards. Thus the justification for performance indicators is that some are needed to measure airport service standards. With the development of aviation industry, it is faced with environmental problems and wildlife which have a great impact on flies safety. For this reason, Airport Wildlife Management facilities are implemented in every airport in order to reduce threats and accidents connected with bird strikes and wild animals.

Concerns over aviation safety expressed in the White House commission’s report were echoed by the report of the congressionally mandated National Civil Aviation Review. The report highlighted an industry analysis showing that existing accident rates and increasing demand for air travel could lead to an airline accident occurring somewhere in the world on a weekly basis. Clearly, aviation safety was a matter requiring renewed U.S. leadership and significant national investment. At the same time, the newly enacted Aviation Family Assistance Act of 1996 mandated the creation of the Task Force on Assistance to Families of Aviation Disasters, overseen jointly by the U.S. DOT and the NTSB (Airport Wildlife Hazard Abatement, 2006).

The debates about bird strikes (gulls, hawks and owls) and wild animal in airports are to date extensive, and for this reason airlines have explored this approach to management from a safety perspective. According to statistical data: “Bird and other wildlife strikes to aircraft annually cause over $600 million in damage to U.S. civil and military aviation” (Part 139 Best Practices, 2006). As such, safety perspectives provide an ideal prism through which researchers can explore one of the most popular and debated approaches to wildlife airport management. In doing so, researchers consider some of the fundamental principles within wildlife airport management, such as consensus in the safety measures, employee involvement and control of birds and animals populations. When these components are set in a context, particularly within geographical and climate peculiarities, researchers show that wildlife airport management is capable of offering the conditions conducive to good policy and practice in aviation.

Bird strikes is the main problem faced by airports and aviation industry. According to statistical results: “Nationwide, aircraft-wildlife strikes are the second leading cause of aviation fatalities (FAA 2003 data) and account for more than 40 percent of the foreign object debris (FOD) damage sustained by aircraft. Estimated damages to aviation from wildlife strikes exceed $300 million annually for just U.S. carriers” (Sea-Tac Airport’s Comprehensive Program, 2006). Inter-airport comparisons of statistical data generally pose insurmountable problems.

Wild animals, including deer, bears and elephants, etc are the main threat for airports and aviation. Critics state that: “Airports should have a “zero tolerance” policy for deer and other large mammals in the aircraft operating area because of their extreme threat to aviation safety” (Wild Hazard Management, 2003). One might argue that since both crew and airport have ‘equal’ interests in the area of health and safety, both parties should have equal influence in decisions affecting health and safety measures against wild animals and birds. Even where there is a general consensus that safety should take place in every airports, the countervailing pressures test management’s commitment to their legal obligations. The potential danger is that safety measures will be allowed to take priority over all other issues such as quality and cost reduction.

Also, it is important to note that the discussion which follows is concerned with exploring indicators relating primarily to safety performance (Birdstrike 2005). However, it should be borne in mind that there is a correlation between service quality and safety. An airport may, as a matter of policy, provide a very high level of service despite the knowledge that this will worsen some safety indicators. This potential conflict between service standards and safety is inherent in aviation (Mizejewski 1998).

Today, the maintenance of safe conditions and the prevention of accidents are most important. Accident prevention is the responsibility of management and this responsibility is often delegated to the safety commission or safety responsible staff. The main task of airports is high reliability. The high-reliability airports concentrate on having few incidents and accidents. Airports of this kind typically have systems in which the consequences of errors are particularly grave. The high-performance organization concentrates on high effectiveness. Here, instead of the multifaceted approach of the high-reliability there is often a single measure that is critical. The emphasis is on safety measures rather than error-free operation (Flight Aborted in Bird Collision 2005). Conversely, airports where incidents or accidents are likely to occur are organizations where one or more of these principles are compromised.

Special safety regulations and measures also make it possible to replace hazardous with less dangerous influences. For instance, “Birds are drawn to open, short grass areas where they can find security from predators and humans, find a place to nest and rest, and have access to food and water” (Wild Hazard Management, 2003). If past achievements are used as standards for comparison, an improvement in safety can be measured in terms of lower level of accidents. This will be of great importance to management as it will show trends over the years and will give indications as to the direction in which the airport is heading. “Airline company officials explained that birdstrike is one of the causes of minor and major maintenance repairs costing millions of pesos depending on the intensity of damage” (‘Birdstrike: ‘ Scourge of the Airways, 2005).

Airport Wildlife Management framework consists of two basic levels: management level and implementation level. Management level includes whole-of-government context, agency program level; agency sub-programs level and asset operational level. The size, scope and operation of Wildlife Management are at the heart of the debate. Asset operational level, Airport Wildlife Management uses the regenerative technique the entire material requirements planning which is repeated periodically. The time period between repetitions conforms to the time period between demand forecasts, the two usually being undertaken on a regular basis to be effective.

Wildlife planning and control provide an opportunity for airports to blend traditional focus on managing animals and habitat with an emerging concern for managing wildlife. For instance, Vancouver International Airport reports that “Control officers conduct wildlife patrols of the airfield 24 hours a day 365 days of the year. In 2005, approximately 1.6 million birds were moved away from aircraft operating areas using a variety of harassment equipment including pyrotechnics, sirens, lights and propane cannons” (WildLife Management Summary Report. 2005). A growing group of wildlife biologists view planning as a method to determine how better to serve aviation: they monitor bird populations in the region and inform airport officials about possible threats. This is probably best embodied in one leading wildlife planner’s view that the planning process should focus on the outputs and benefits that are produced from wildlife management, rather than solely on wildlife management as an end in and of itself. For instance, in the 1970s Sea-Tac Airport was the first U.S. airport to employ a full-time biologist and to develop an ecological approach to maintaining aviation safety and protecting wildlife. This position has evolved to promote wildlife conservation of certain non-hazardous species as well” (Sea-Tac Airport’s Comprehensive Program, 2006).

However the inherent weakness of airport management is that the one airport in question is considered in complete isolation; all the measurements are related entirely to its own sphere of operation. An airport’s own safety measures in isolation do not tell the safety management how well they are doing in relation to other similar airports. More especially they give no indication in which areas of safety the airport performs particularly well in relation to the industry average or to other airports. To overcome this problem it is crucial to make inter-airport comparisons. In making inter-firm or cross-sectional comparisons, three different safety standards might possibly be adopted (Wild Hazard Management, 2003).

Current patterns of policy implementation for safety — bottom up, confused, and top down — are extremely important. Although the specific nature and detail of safety vary widely, almost all disaster response efforts conform to one of these patterns. More specifically, the three patterns reveal the extent to which airport plans match the needs and expectations of customers. Statistical data that conform to the bottom-up process are most likely to be labeled successes; those that proceed in a confused, disorganized manner are usually viewed with mixed reactions; and those that follow the top-down pattern are generally perceived to be complete failures. Consequently, these three implementation patterns are used in this study to construct a framework for understanding the success or failure of the airport wildlife management. In aviation industries safety control becomes much more problematic, both because it is inherently more difficult to measure the quality of a service rendered rather than that safety and also because it is difficult to be objective rather than subjective.

One of the key factors of airport safety is an ability to anticipate what might go wrong, and test for that when the system is developed. Control and radar systems often indicate the direction from which trouble is likely to arrive. Understanding the ways in which things can go wrong often allows one to test to make sure that they have not. Although foresight is valuable, however, it cannot be perfect. Even the best systems design strategy cannot foresee everything. So once the safety system is designed and produced, monitoring needs to continue, even if nothing appears to be wrong. For instance, many airports including Sea-Tac Airport introduce Raptor Strike Avoidance Programs and Wildlife Deterrent Fencing. According to results, “Territorial adult hawks are scared away from the runways, but generally not relocated because these birds are more “airport savvy” and likely help to keep transient hawks away” (Sea-Tac Airport’s Comprehensive Program). Wildlife Deterrent Fencing keeps animals awayfrom digging onto the airfield”. Also, “the wildlife hazard assessment will typically recommend the type/height of fence. Generally, we recommend a 10-foot chain link fence topped with 3 strands of barbed wire, and a 4-foot skirt attached to the bottom of the fence” (Part 139 Best Practices, 2006).

If things begin to go wrong, a vigilant system will catch the problems sooner. The Comet and Electra airliners, for instance, needed this high level of vigilance, because each had built-in problems that were unanticipated. Such examples show that safety measures are seldom so far advanced that all problems can be anticipated beforehand. The use of automation especially requires intensive training in the operation and the quirks of the automated system.

The equipment the organization uses should be both adequate to insure a reasonable level of safety and the best available for the job–within the constraints of cost. This principle suggests that no aviation organization can afford to be indifferent to the equipment that it uses to its development, manufacture, and current state of functioning. It should systematically search out the best equipment it can afford to match mission requirements, test it carefully, and endeavor to use it with close attention to its strengths and weaknesses. For instance, “Specific technological factors, such as radar fixes (electronic techniques to improve the detection ability of existing radar), improved radar’s ability to fulfill its intended purpose, but hampered the effectiveness of bird detection. These capabilities included moving target indicators (to eliminate stationary targets), sensitivity time control (to eliminate undesired small echoes), and circular polarization (to suppress echoes from precipitation and humidity)” (Airport Wildlife Management: Avian Radar, 2006).

The airport staff must manifest exceptional skill and expertise, combining leadership in relevant technical areas with superior investigative talents and management abilities. The principal resource is clearly its staff. How this staff is recruited, maintained, and trained ultimately ensures, more than any other factor, the timely and accurate resolution of transportation accidents. The parties to safety investigation should have the highest level of integrity, prompted by the notion that safety will be furthered by the expeditious determination. For instance, “this AC recommends that putrescible waste disposal operations, water management facilities, wetlands, dredge spoil containment areas and golf courses be located a minimum of 5,000 feet from runways serving piston-powered aircraft and 10,000 feet from runways serving turbine-powered aircraft” (Part 139 Best Practices, 2006).

Based on this, an initial expectation of safety might occupy a high-priority position in airports and management agendas. In addition, safety is all about making companies more profitable through improved services quality. But safety is about more than profit – it is lauded as a ‘humane’ and ‘ethical’ approach to management. However, extracting the value from any asset does not necessarily guarantee a benevolent approach (Wild Hazard Management. 2003).

However, getting proper equipment is essential to high-integrity functioning. The organization that uses bad equipment will have to work harder to achieve success than the one that starts out with the proper equipment. Design serves human purpose, and should do so in an economical and safe way. But system design, particularly on a large scale, often fails through lack of foresight. In designing big systems, mistakes in conception can lead to large and costly foul-ups, or even system failure.

Another important part of wild management is habitat management. Researchers and safety specialists suppose that: “habitat management is the most important component of the wildlife program. Where possible, habitats on airport lands are modified to reduce their attractiveness to hazardous wildlife species” (WildLife Management 2005). Emphasis on planning is a strong indicator of high integrity. High-integrity organizations do not just “let it happen.” More of their activities and decisions are under conscious and positive control. Very little “shit” is allowed to happen in high-integrity airlines, and what does is carefully noted, and, if possible, designed out of the next operation. High-integrity organizations often appear to have mastered disciplines that others have not, and thus are able to do things that other organizations consider outside their realm of control. In civilian operations, this has meant a higher degree of safety; for the military aviation, it has meant higher mission success rates.

Although the second of these principles is necessary to fulfillment of safety standards, it is not sufficient in the absence of the Safety Board’s exercise of leadership through the excellence and expertise of its staff. Should either tenet be violated, the credibility of the Safety Board’s product–that is, the findings of cause and safety recommendations–would become suspect. In order to maximize the effectiveness of safety measures, their avail­ability and application considers people and equipment as the main assets.  Assets scheduling in the initial planning stage varies depending on the type of safety measures. For instance, Part 139 Best Practices states that: The biologist should assist the Wildlife Hazard Management Group with periodic evaluations of the plan and make recommendations for further refinements or modifications” (2006).

Taking into account safety performance, asset management as a part of safety management helps in the development of performance which focuses and the development and sharing of knowledge of a particular type for a particular group of employees. It also sustains the redevelopment processes of organizational and individual learning which  generates and assist in disseminating knowledge. In conjunction with IT, develop systems for capturing and, as far as possible, codifying explicit and tacit knowledge.

A duty of safety measures and wildlife management is thus laid on employees to take reasonable care for their own safety and that of others, there is provision for the appointment of safety representatives and safety committees from among employees, and the employer must issue a written statement of his safety policy. In furtherance of this ‘positive safety’ aim, the idea of criminal sanctions for breach of the Act is pushed into the background. Although such sanctions exist, safety inspectors, who have statutory powers, will generally first issue notices requiring, for instance, an improvement of some matter, before there is resort to a prosecu­tion. The primary job of inspectors is thus to provide detailed advice and assistance, rather than to be law enforcers in the strict sense. Clearly, the role of the human resources officer in encouraging this ‘positive safety’ attitude is of crucial importance. The Act also established two bodies: the Health and Safety Commission, which has overall responsibility for safety and whose role is one of advice, education, and research, and the Safety Execu­tive, which is responsible for the actual operation of all safety law. Finally, it should be noted that an employee injured at work has two other remedies open to him: he may sue his employer for negligence and he may claim industrial injury benefit. Regulations dealing with safety arrangements will require every employer, having regard to the nature and size of the undertaking, effec­tively to plan, organize, control, monitor and review the protective and pre­ventive measures which the risk assessment identifies as being appropriate. As these are specific requirements they should be integrated into existing safety policies.

In sum, to ensure adequate supply of all resources and safety, airports use monitoring and control activities. Co-ordination is essential, and means viewing the system as a whole and harmoniously fitting the various safety systems together so that all restraining fac­tors are noted and the policy of the company is followed. Deviations from predetermined plans are seen by comparing actual and determined data. The subsequent analysis of the differences or variances and the action taken are a vital part of the control mechanism. An integral part of the control is the recognition that perfor­mances and costs can be traced to the people concerned. Monitoring of the environment and animal and bird populations is an important method that helps to search for new trends in airport wildlife management.

Works Cited Pge

  1. Airport Wildlife Hazard Abatement. 2006. http://www.airporttech.tc.faa.gov/safety/wildlife.asp (accessed 15 Dec 2006)
  2. Airport Wildlife Management: Avian Radar, 2006. http://www.tc.gc.ca/civilaviation/publications/tp8240/AWMB36/menu.htm (accessed 15 Dec 2006)
  3. ‘Birdstrike: ‘ Scourge of the Airways. Manila Bulletin, March 13, 2005.
  4. Flight Aborted in Bird Collision. Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England), February 16, 2005.
  5. Mizejewski, G. Watch the Birdie. The Washington Times, April 21, 1998.
  6. Part 139 Best Practices: Wildlife Management Airports-Central Region. 2006. http://www.faa.gov/airports_airtraffic/airports/regional_guidance/central/airport_safety/part139/best_practice/wildlife/ (accessed 15 Dec 2006)
  7. Sea-Tac Airport’s Comprehensive Program for Wildlife Management. Wildlife Management. 2006. http://www.portseattle.org/community/environment/wildlife.shtml (accessed 15 Dec 2006)
  8. Wild Hazard Management. 2003. http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/library/publications/topic/air/wildlife-owners.pdf. (accessed 15 Dec 2006)
  9. WildLife Management Summary Report. 2005. http://www.yvr.ca/authority/facts/wildlife_management.asp

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