Bird Struck

When a US Airways Airbus A320 crashed into New York’s Hudson River in January after a flock of geese caused engine failure, people thought the incident was extraordinary.

IN fact, bird strikes are a major factor in safety regulation and environmental management in airports worldwide. This is where Gold Coast-based company Avisure has found its niche.

After only 17 months in operation, Avisure has become a global leader in airport bird strike management, a problem estimated to cost the international aviation industry more than $US1.2 billion annually.

Avisure managing director Phil Shaw, says more than 20,000 reported bird strikes have occurred in Australia since 1970, with many more luckless birds going unnoticed by even the pilot.

“All major airports need a management plan with the focus in Australia being on habitat regulation and managing landfills which attract birds,” he says.

Locally, Shaw says species that create the biggest threat to airports are ibis, plovers and even a species of bat. The territorial plover has been known to attack planes, believing they are ‘large metal birds’.

“Flying foxes create a serious hazard in North Australia and Queensland especially,” he says.

“In Cairns, it was recorded at one time there were over 17,000 foxes flying across the airport.”

Avisure provides solutions to potential bird strike threats by managing grasslands, waterways and other habitats to limit their attraction to birds, ensuring landfills are not built near airports, training airport staff to disperse birds away from the area and predicting population trends to ensure proactive management.

With no immediate competitor, the West Burleigh company has consulted with 20 national airports since its inception in 2006 and expects international projects to expand rapidly into South-East Asia.

Current international consulting includes developing bird strike management plans in the Middle East where Shaw says problems can be exasperated by migrating birds.

Recognised as the country’s expert in bird strike management, Shaw is the first Australian to be appointed to the International Birdstrike Committee and has recently returned from presenting at the organisation’s annual conference in Brazil.

Avisure is the subsidiary of Shaw’s environmental management company Ecosure which together turned over $3 million last FY and is forecasting a 30 per cent growth in the current FY.

Ecosure has just finished a major Federal Government funded project which involved providing a review of the environmental impact of introduced feral pests on 8500 offshore Australian islands.

With the current focus on sustainable living and carbon emissions, the company has received funding from the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management to establish a Climate Smart business cluster on the Gold Coast.

Shaw says so far 15 businesses have come aboard and will be supported in their efforts to achieve cost savings and take advantage of the profitability of improved environmental performance.

“The project is all about assessing businesses and providing them with ways to offset their carbon footprint and become more sustainable,” he says.

Major outcomes include reducing the waste production as well as the energy and water consumption of the participants and encouraging other local businesses to consider more sustainable options in their business activities.

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