Sessions Begin for North American Bird Strike Conference

August 14, 2019

North American Bird Strike Conference participants were welcomed to Halifax Tuesday morning, August 13, by Joyce Carter, President and CEO of the Halifax International Airport Authority. More than 260 participants from the United States, Canada, and 14 other countries embarked on three days of conference sessions and collaboration to reduce wildlife strike hazards to aircraft.

Keynote Speaker Recognizes Wildlife Challenges to Aviation

Samuel Elfassy, Vice President, Safety, Air Canada, opened the 2019 North American Bird Strike Conference by recognizing the wildlife challenges that many airports face as a result of their surrounding environments, numerous/complex regulatory frameworks, and the goals and concerns of diverse stakeholders. Mr. Elfassy provided participants with a summary of Air Canada’s wildlife management program and its ongoing cooperation with wildlife managers and aviation authorities to reduce wildlife strike hazards.

Show Me the Data!

Wildlife strike data remains the cornerstone of wildlife management. The opening presentation by FAA Biologist and Bird Strike USA Chair John Weller emphasized the challenges associated with consistency among available strike data and ongoing data collection such as the absence of standardized data protocols and specific metrics that can be used to provide meaningful analyses.

Troy Levanen, Certified Aircraft Accident Investigator with Alaska Air Group, offered further input to data collection challenges by presenting a comparison of strike data obtained from multiple sources (aircraft maintenance records, Pilot Irregularity Reports, and FAA’s National Wildlife Strike Database). Using the data obtained from these sources, Alaska Air Group has created an Aviation Dashboard to improve safety by identifying wildlife presence and trends observed at each of the airports included in its daily operations.

Topics pertaining to wildlife strike data, data collection, and the ability to compare data among various sources and locations will remain central to numerous presentations throughout the three-day conference.

Smithsonian Receives Special Recognition Award

Bird Strike Committee USA recognized the outstanding efforts of the Smithsonian Institution’s Feather Identification Lab in the production of Bird v. Plane: Miracle on the Hudson, a documentary that describes the Lab’s efforts to identify the species associated with the 2009 incident. The documentary was produced by the Smithsonian Channel and aired in January 2019 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Miracle on the Hudson.

Marcy Heacker of the Smithsonian Feather ID Lab (center) accepts a Special Recognition Award from Bird Strike Committee USA. The award was presented by John Weller and Amy Anderson of the FAA.

Excellence in Strike Reporting

The Sandy Wright/Richard Dolbeer Excellence in Strike Reporting Award was initiated in 2014 to both certificated and General Aviation airports who are exemplary in both the quantity and quality of reported wildlife strike data. The 2019 awards were presented to Mr. Steve Osmek of the Seattle-Tacoma (SEA-TAC) airport and Page Field, respectively. Congratulations to these two airports, their awards are well-deserved.

Meeting and Greeting

Despite the weighty subjects, conference participants understand the need to interact socially. Tuesday’s conference concluded with a Welcome Reception with Exhibitors and the Poster sessions.

Sarah Brammell, Michael Begier, and Danna Dannaly Cruz whip up a little fun during the Welcome Reception.

Visit the AAAE Blog tomorrow for more updates from the North American Bird Strike Conference or sign up for updates to be notified when registration for next year's conference opens!