Birds and planes are not a good combination. Airports do everything in their power to prevent birds from coming close to planes during take-off and landing. Drones could potentially be of great help here. As of September 9, 2021 Brussels Airport and skeyes are testing in cooperation with Citymesh to what extent drones can help in monitoring and chasing away birds in the vicinity of the airport.
The Bird Control Unit of Brussels Airport has to deal with a big challenge every day: birds on the runways. For the safety of both the birds and the air traffic, it is imperative that the birds do not come close to the aircraft. The Bird Control Unit is already taking various measures to achieve this, but new technologies are making this task even more accurate and efficient. One of the solutions being put forward is the use of drones. Although drones and aircraft do not usually go well together, drones may be able to reduce the danger of birds. With Citymesh's Safety Drone, Brussels Airport and skeyes are testing whether they can map the birds and lead them away from planes that are taking off or landing. An extra pair of eyes on the tarmac, as it were. The drones also use a natural deterrent: a loudspeaker is attached to them that plays bird of prey sounds. The drones would serve as an additional tool for the Bird Control Unit.
Ward Van Ooteghem, CSO at Citymesh: The airport is a huge area. Moreover, the issue extends beyond the airport grounds, where aircraft are already flying low above the ground. Drones can be used to monitor these areas in a very safe but simple way.
Of course, drones that chase away birds shouldn't pose a danger at the airport either. That is why operational coordination procedures have been established to guarantee safe operation. In this way, the Safety Drone does not disrupt the operation of the airport. The procedures include a safe distance from the runways and no flying when aircrafts are taking off or landing. Thanks to the close cooperation between the air traffic controllers in the skeyes tower, the staff of the Airport Operations Centre at Brussels Airport and Citymesh's drone pilots, the drone flights do not affect the operations of the airport.
These tests are not the first initiative with which Citymesh assists Brussels Airport. In April, test flights with drones were already carried out to find out how drones can form an essential part of the airport's operations. The specific use case that emerged during the previous tests for chasing away birds and other animals is now being expanded with new tests. These drone flights are made possible thanks to the private mobile network that Citymesh previously installed at Brussels Airport. This allows the Citymesh Safety Drone to be controlled from a distance.