Zebra stripes keep birds from colliding with aircraft

February 7, 2017
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Zebra stripe on the propellers of the aircraft can prevent the colliding with birds in the air, said the scientists from the University of Oslo’s Natural History Museum. They prove that monochrome stripes can scare birds away from planes and to reduce the incident in the air.

The colliding of the aircraft with the birds in the air is one of the most unwanted scenarios for the pilots. Sometimes, such situation led to the emergency landing, e.g., famous landing in the Hudson river in 2009. That time Captain Sullenberger from the Flight 1549 had to land the aircraft in the river to avoid the fatal outcome, below you can see an animation of the accident with goose strike.

The bird expert Christian Kierulf Aas from the University of Oslo’s Natural History Museum focused on helping Norwegian airlines keep the birds away from planes. The accident with the flight 1549 in the US showed the dangerous of the birds to the engines.

The fatal outcome is the worst scenario we can have after the birds strike, often the aircraft just crashes or lost due to birds and it cost a lot to the airlines.

“Part of the reason for these fighter accidents may be that the jets fly low on their training missions, although they’re not supposed to fly below a thousand feet if they don’t need to,” says Aas.

According to ornithologists, the birds generally fly below 500 feet, that’s why the aircraft has a chance to collide with the birds while take-offs and landings. In other words, the height 500ft poses the highest risk for bird strikes.

“Gulls account for the most bird strikes. The birds that come too close to planes probably don’t see them,”

Aas says.

Zebra stripes on propellers as a solution

The Norwegian scientists offered a simple and elegant solution for the problem of birds strike. Black and white stripes on the propeller make them visible for the birds and reduce significantly the risk of colliding.

Zebra (black and white in combination) is the most visible for bird’s eye. The one-year experiment with totally black propellers demonstrated its far low result in comparison with the stripe ones: 1 per 1000 flights and only 0.4 per 1000 flights consequently. Thus, the zebra has proved its effectiveness concluded scientists.

“This is significantly lower,”

says Aas.

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