Friday, October 23, 2015

Deployment and Assessment of Avian Radar Systems at John F. Kennedy International Airport

DOT/FAA/TC-15/53 Authors: Edwin E. Herricks and Elizabeth Woodworth


Avoiding collisions between birds and aircraft is the focus of airport safety programs. In those programs, wildlife management is a key activity. A wide array of wildlife management tools is available to airport wildlife biologists, with avian radar systems prominent in the list. Avian radar systems are available commercially and provide new information to wildlife managers and new operational opportunities in airport safety management systems.

The University of Illinois Center of Excellence for Airport Technology (CEAT) has led a multiple-year program to assess the performance of avian radar systems at airports. This report provides a comprehensive review of avian radar system deployment at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), providing a summary of installation, operations, maintenance, and data analysis. This report addresses program, project, and study objectives that were updated throughout the deployment. The deployment was completed with the installation of two avian radar systems, which were operated for more than two years. Operational experience found that avian radars are robust and reliable. CEAT personnel demonstrated support for airport wildlife hazard management through near real-time and after-the-fact studies that identified and quantified bird movement dynamics. Daily, seasonal, and inter-annual variability in bird movement and activity were characterized. The two avian radar systems deployed did not provide complete airport coverage, nor were they deployed to provide the sense-and-alert functionality needed for air traffic control. Surveillance was provided for approach and departure paths for several runways and for areas where birds were known hazards. Avian radars were shown to contribute important supplementary information on bird movement and dynamics to airport wildlife management Concept of Operations.


Authors: Edwin E. Herricks and Elizabeth Woodworth

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