While focused on keeping annoying sounds out of the aircraft cabin, Airbus has patented advanced digital sonic technology to emanate sounds expressly intended to frighten fowl until they flee.
In everything aviation safety, the phases of take-off and landing are the most critical, when accidents from a number of causes — though rare on the whole — are more likely to happen. Airports around the world take innovative steps to keep birds away, including deploying birds of prey, using mechanical hawks to scare off other birds, setting off gas canons, and generating noise in a number of other creative ways to prevent birds from gathering.
Airbus has taken inspiration from those airports who produce bird-repelling sounds, to ensure birds are properly scared-off by its new patented: “Method and Device for Scaring Birds Acoustically, In Particular for an Aircraft.”
As the patent states, it is “a device for acoustically scaring avian species. The object of such a device is to repel avian species from sensitive zones of human activity by generating acoustic signals.” Airbus claims the device will be multi-functional, for the “acoustic scaring of avian species at airports, using a system operated on the ground, or using a system onboard an aircraft, to limit avian collisions with aircraft.”
Birds are a menace to aviation, largely due to their insistence on flying in the sky—where airplanes do their thing. Aircraft damage resulting from Bird-Strikes costs the industry a fortune: the FAA estimates $957 million dollars a year in the US; EASA estimates the global costs of bird strikes in excess of one billion euros per year.
More critically, for those of us who take to the skies fly on aircraft, bird strikes can lead to serious accidents. USAirways Flight 1549, the “Miracle on the Hudson” was the result of engine failure due to a strike from a flock of geese. Even Orville Wright ran into bird trouble in 1905. In 1912, a Wright Flyer was struck by gulls during a demonstration by the sea leading to the first aviation-related death resulting from a bird-strike.
Aviation ensures critical aircraft components—like the engines, and the protruding radome antennae which bring us in-flight Wi-Fi—are safe by tossing large birds at the component to see how it stands up to the weight and bulk of the avian menace.
Birds tend to flock, multiplying the risks, and some birds are getting fatter. Canadian Goose are up to 7.3 kg, which makes regulators nervous. Standard test requirements call for birds between 0.91 kg and 3.6 kg, relative to the function of the components to be tested and the flight conditions the test should simulate.