Actual and perceived collision risk for bird strikes at Namibian airports
At Namibia’s two major airports, Hosea Kutako International and Eros (domestic), 117 bird strike collision incidents were recorded between 2006 and 2010. A risk assessment, which included a proposed risk weighting methodology, was conducted at Hosea Kutako and Eros airports, which estimated the probability of an accident/collision as well as the consequence of such a collision. The assessment included surveys of bird occurrence frequencies as well as pilot interviews. The results of the risk assessments were compared with actual bird strike incidences for each species, frequency of occurrence of birds and pilot perceptions of species risk, in order to find whether risk assessment and pilot perception are reliable measures of potential bird strike incidence. White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus and Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris were the highest risk species at both airports. They were also, after Crowned Lapwing Vanellus coronatus, the species most often observed by pilots. Bird strike records showed that Crowned Lapwing and Helmeted Guineafowl were also the most frequently struck birds at both airports. The study illustrates how combining risk assessment, pilot perception and bird strike history can benefit bird strike minimisation plans at airports through the rapid identification of priority bird species.
Keywords: airport, avifaunal survey, bird strike, risk assessment