A wildlife hazard assessment will commence sometime this spring at the Oakland County International Airport in Waterford Township, with the goal of minimizing the risk to aviation safety posed by populations of certain wildlife.
The assessment will be an ecological study that examines the potential for wildlife strikes at airports.
Typically, such assessments take between one and two years to complete. During this time, an airport wildlife biologist who meets Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) training and certification requirements will examine wildlife activity, management strategies, and wildlife attractants both on and off the airport premises. The information gathered during the assessment will be used to create a hazard management plan.
It’s becoming more commonplace for airports around the country to schedule such assessments given the Canada goose bird strike incident in 2009, when U.S. Airways Flight 1549 landed in the Hudson River with 155 people on board.
“That incident elevated the priority of such studies,” said Oakland County Director of Central Services J. David VanderVeen. “We have a potential bird problem and in any case could be deadly. We also are exposed to deer and that’s why we built a 10-foot fence.”
According to the FAA, there were about 65,000 bird strikes involving civil aircraft in the United States from 1990 to 2005, or about one for every 10,000 flights.
The $51,000 study is expected to be funded in part through a federal grant of $48,450, which will cover 95 percent of the costs; 2.5 percent, or $1,275, will be derived from both state and county coffers.
The initiative has already been approved by the Oakland County Board of Commissioners Planning and Building Committee and Finance Committee. It will now be forwarded to the full Board of Commissioners for final approval.
The study is anticipated to begin sometime in March or April and will take approximately one year to complete.