BIRDTAM integration sets new standards for aviation safety
Oliver Giles (5 min read )
Using modern hardware and software solutions, it is possible to create a system that can mitigate some of the threats posed by birds and other wildlife to aviation. A BIRDTAM (Bird Tactical Advisory Message) has been proposed to help pilots, controllers, and airport ops better anticipate, control and avoid areas with high bird and wildlife activity. Does the aviation industry need a BIRDTAM?
For any Pilot, the NOTAM (Notice to Airmen or the more proper Notice to Air Missions) is an essential part of our flight briefing package and simultaneously a source of eye-rolling comedy at the sheer superfluousness of some of the content.
The Crane NOTAM. Fly out of any airport close to a significant population centre, and your briefing package will be adorned with multiple NOTAMS. These will often detail the many cranes that you are (un)likely to encounter that, by their very nature, tend to be ever-present in significant towns and cities worldwide. Similarly, bird NOTAMs fall into this particular category of uselessness. “FLOCKS OF BIRDS EXIST IN THE VCY OF AD DURING NGT AND DAY” is not valuable information and only makes me wish I had brought my binoculars.
Benefits of a BIRDTAM
Increased safety: Providing pilots and air traffic controllers with real-time bird activity information helps them make informed decisions to avoid areas with high bird concentrations, reducing the likelihood of bird strikes. This would increase safety for passengers, crew members, and aircraft.
Cost savings: Bird strikes can result in significant airline costs, including repairs, delays, and insurance claims. A BIRDTAM system could help minimise these costs by enabling pilots to take action when high levels of bird activity are present, reducing the risk of bird strikes and the associated financial burden on the industry.
Environmental considerations: By reducing the number of bird strikes, a BIRDTAM could also help minimise operational disruption and reduce factors such as empty legs in cases where aircraft are grounded or need repositioning.
Challenges of a BIRDTAM
Data collection and processing: Implementing a BIRDTAM would require collecting, processing, and disseminating real-time data on bird activity. This could be a significant challenge, as it would require developing and implementing new data collection methods and infrastructure and integrating this information into existing air traffic management systems.
Cognitive workload: Pilots and air traffic controllers are already responsible for processing large amounts of information during flights. Adding additional layers of data to their workload could lead to cognitive overload. To alleviate this risk, it would be essential to develop user-friendly interfaces and data presentation layers that enable users to quickly and easily assess their decisions against the presented information.
Accuracy and reliability: There may be concerns about the accuracy and reliability of the BIRDTAM data, particularly in regions with limited data collection infrastructure or in cases of sudden, unpredictable changes in bird activity. Ensuring the accuracy and reliability of BIRDTAM data would be a critical aspect of the system’s implementation and maintenance.
International cooperation and standardisation: Implementing a BIRDTAM would require international collaboration and standardisation, as bird migration patterns often cross national borders. This would involve collaboration between aviation authorities, wildlife management agencies, and other stakeholders. International collaboration will be essential to developing a globally recognised system that can be easily integrated into existing air traffic management frameworks.
The Future of BIRDTAM
As technology advances and the demand for safer and more efficient air travel grows, the potential for a BIRDTAM system to become a reality increases. At present, there are areas of research and development that could contribute to the implementation and success of a BIRDTAM system:
Advanced radar and detection technologies: To accurately track and monitor bird activity in real-time, advancements in radar and detection technologies will be crucial. This will include developing specialised radar systems designed to identify and track bird movements or integrating existing wildlife tracking technologies into air traffic management systems.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning: Implementing a BIRDTAM would require processing vast amounts of data, which could be facilitated by leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies. These technologies could predict bird movements, identify patterns in bird activity, and provide timely and accurate information to pilots and air traffic controllers.
Collaboration with ornithologists and wildlife experts: To effectively implement a BIRDTAM, collaboration with ornithology and wildlife management experts will be essential. By drawing on their knowledge and expertise, the aviation industry can develop a more comprehensive understanding of bird behaviour and migration patterns, contributing to the accuracy and reliability of BIRDTAM data.
Pilot and air traffic controller training: Ensuring that pilots and air traffic controllers are well-equipped to interpret and act on BIRDTAM data will be critical to its success. This could involve the development of specialised training programs and educational resources to help us in the aviation industry understand how to use BIRDTAM data in our decision-making processes effectively.
Industry awareness and support: Awareness and support for implementing a BIRDTAM system will be essential to its success. By educating stakeholders about the potential benefits of a BIRDTAM, the aviation industry can build support for the necessary investments in research, development, and infrastructure.
Implementing a BIRDTAM could help address the issue of bird strikes in the aviation industry by providing real-time information on bird activity, enabling pilots to make informed decisions to avoid potential bird strikes. While challenges and drawbacks are associated with implementing a BIRDTAM, the potential benefits of increased safety and reduced financial burden on the industry make it a compelling option for further exploration.
By fostering international cooperation, investing in data collection infrastructure, and developing user-friendly interfaces, the aviation industry could take a significant step forward in mitigating the risk of bird strikes and ensuring the continued safety of air travel.