Robotic Falcon to Prevent Bird Strikes Debuts at German Airport

April 27, 2016
Weeze Airport will use a robotic falcon, developed by Clear Flight Solutions, to ward of and chase flocks of birds near the airport.

In 2014, there were 13,159 reported incidents of birds striking aircraft, according to the FAA, but one German airport thinks it the fix – a robotic falcon.  

Weeze Airport will use a 'Robird,' developed by Clear Flight Solutions, to ward of and chase flocks of birds near the airport.  

The robotic falcons, which have a realistic appearance, weight and wing movement to real peregrine falcons, are controlled by a 'pilot' on the ground who will be trained by the company. 

"Finally, this is a historic step for the Robird and our company," said Nico Nijenhuis, CEO of Clear Flight Solutions, in a news release. "We already fly our Robirds and drones at many locations, and doing this at an airport for the first time is really significant." 

Weeze is the first airport to adopt the Robirds, and Clear Flight Solutions said in a release that they are "benefiting from the more relaxed rules at Weeze [as opposed to those at Schiphol Airport], as well as the relatively limited amount of air traffic there."  

Reported bird strikes to aircraft have gone up significantly in recent years. In a study by the FAA, which charted reported bird strikes between 1990 and 2014, the number of bird strikes in 2014 increase by 11,363 reports since 1990.   

The top five species of birds reported struck in 2014 include: morning dove (744), barn swallow (611), killdeer (523), horned lark (517) and American Kestrel (456).  

The top five species of birds reported to have done the most percent of damage in 2014 include: Canada goose (47 percent), turkey vulture (41 percent), mallard (29 percent), cattle egret (11 percent) and herring full (10 percent).  

On April 22, a goose smashed through a plane's windshield of an Ohio pilot as he flew a routine flight to check pipelines in Northern Michigan and forced him into an emergency landing. 

"By the time he had landed, EMS was here, the fire department, the sheriff's department was here and he was nearly hypothermic," Airport Manager Eric Jaroch told 9and10news.com. "No telling what could have happened. A goose is a fairly large bird and had it hit him in the face or chest, he could have been incapacitated, airplane crashes, okay, now we got bigger and more serious problems."

The goose caused $2,000 worth of damage, according to 9and10news.com.