Bird strikes are a real threat for aircraft and one airport thinks they have an ingenious way to keep the birds away: pigs. Yes, you read that right, swine! A European airport is getting creative in its bird battle by deploying a horde of pigs that are certain to result in some angry birds.
By now, most readers will be familiar with the incredible story of Captain Sullenberger who, after taking two bird strikes on takeoff, lost both of engines and was forced to land his US Airways jet in the Hudson River. Miraculously, all passengers and crews survived in what has now become an incredible story of heroism.
The frequency of such bird strikes, however, may not be as well known and while few strikes result in the catastrophic engine failure experienced by Sully, they can and often do cause real damage.
According to the FAA, nearly 8,000 bird strikes occur each year (worldwide) and present a real problem for pilots and airports. A Boeing study on bird strikes noted that “…a 12-pound Canada goose struck by a 150-mph airplane at liftoff generates the kinetic energy of a 1,000-pound weight dropped from a height of 10 feet.”
Various countermeasures are deployed worldwide to help prevent birds from getting in the way of departing or landing aircraft. Some of these measures include reducing reasons to attract birds (like dealing with refuse more efficiently), deploying lights or lasers, and airport landscaping.
However, the Schiphol Airport (AMS) in Amsterdam, one of Europe’s largest airports, is trying a truly unique method to deal with their bird problem: pigs. According to a report by The Register, the airport has turned to a company known as Extraordinary Pigs to help combat their Geese problem.
The novel idea deploys 20 or so pigs in farmland that surround the airport and are known to attract birds who feast on the harvest remnants. Because the land surrounding the airport is so fertile (it’s below sea level) it remains an important farming resource in the tiny country and that attracts the birds.
After deploying lasers, gas cannons, nets, different types of grass and more, AMS is giving pigs a try by letting them loose on the land to forage before the birds get there, a move that’s sure to create some angry birds.