9 APRIL 2018
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Eagle-eyed bird spotters passing through Southampton Airport recently may have noticed a species they couldn’t quite place.
It looks like a falcon to the casual observer, but the new arrival, named Robird, is an ornithopter – a type of drone designed and flown to mimic the actions of a bird of prey, and used to deter real birds from the airport.
Officials say traditional bird-scaring methods lose their impact over time and need to be backed up with lethal deterrents. Birds of all types see Robird as a predator, and change their behaviour to keep well away, with no harm coming to them.
The drone has been undergoing trials at Southampton Airport in partnership with NATS and its developer, Clear Flight Solutions. The successful trial means similar robot bird systems could take flight at other airports in the future.
Airport’s airside operations and safety manager Dan Townsend said: “We invest every effort to make sure our airfield is as safe as possible. Robird to an effective and durable way to reduce bird strikes – you could say the idea really has wings.”
Clear Flight Solutions UK & Ireland director Ian Rogers added: “The effect of flying Robird at Southampton has been to remove bird hazards safely and controllably from safety critical areas, which will benefit the airport and its customers.”
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