Growing ibis threat to planes

PILOTS landing at Albury Airport have been warned about the increasing threat of hitting an ibis.

Four recent bird strikes have been reported to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

And airport staff have increased their efforts to scare off the birds and ensure they don’t compromise passenger safety.

The issue was highlighted at the most recent meeting of the Albury Airport Users Advisory Committee with 18 notices officially filed with aviation authorities.

Cr David Thurley raised the issue at the Albury Council’s engineering and works committee meeting last night.

He asked staff how dangerous the ibis issue was and how effective harassment measures were in combating the problem.

“Maybe the measures could have been used against the bats,” Cr Thurley said in reference to the recent invasion of bats at the Albury Botanic Gardens.

Engineering director and airport advisory committee member Brad Ferris there had been more bird strikes at the airport.

“We’ve stepped up our tactics to scare them from the runway area, as we do with other wildlife that arrives from time to time,” he said.

“We are certainly reviewing some of the flight paths of some of the larger birds.”

A bird struck the nose of a Virgin Blue plane at about 200 metres in January, 2011 on approach to the airport. An engineer was flown from Sydney to inspect the damage.

An abundance of food is the big attraction for the birds at the airport.

The airport has only basic data about the number of ibis in the area with plans to have a more thorough count.

A theory that changed environmental conditions at the Albury tip had attracted more ibis to the airport has been discounted.

The land-fill, wetlands and the airport’s flight paths form a direct line.

A report by the transport safety bureau found the number of bird strikes on large passenger planes across Australia had increased from 400 to 980 a year in the years from 2002 to 2011.

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