...As FAA Maps Hazard Zones, And Other Critters Intrude

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The FAA is working to develop a wildlife-hazards advisory system that would integrate radar data with the Bird Avoidance Model, or (it's not April 1, yet) BAM, that has been used with some success by the U.S. military. (There also exists a military Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard ... [BASH] team.) The BAM approach is not a real-time detection system, but depends on collecting and analyzing data to document and predict the presence of birds and map known bird strikes so hazardous areas can be delineated and aircraft can choose flight paths that avoid them. The FAA's BAM maps are available online, and classify the risks at low, moderate or severe. But birds are not the only wildlife that conflict with aircraft -- many airports are having problems with deer on the runway. More than 600 civil aircraft collisions with deer were reported in the U.S. from 1990 to 2003. Other animals that have been reported in runway collisions include coyotes, raccoons, moose and alligators. The FAA has an online photo collection showing the damage these incidents can inflict on aircraft of all sizes. NTSB investigator John Goglia has been a longtime crusader about the dangers of bird strikes. He says airports and the FAA need to be more aggressive about making the areas around airports less inviting to birds. "I think it's just a matter of time before we're going to have an event that will make us wish we had dealt with the problem earlier," he told the St. Petersburg Times this week. Goglia will retire from the NTSB next month.