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Solar Arrays at Airports: Do they increase birdstrike risks?

Cara J

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Which is riskier for airports— a solar array or a grassy field? To better understand how the land around airports might affect the risk of bird-aircraft collisions, USDA Wildlife Services’ National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) researchers and partners recently compared bird use at solar arrays and grasslands at airports in Arizona, Colorado, and Ohio. The average commercial airport in the contiguous United States is approximately 2,000 acres. About 39 percent of that area is covered by grasses. However, few studies have evaluated the economics and safety of these grasses relative to other types of land cover. Managed turf grasses are expensive to maintain and can attract wildlife hazardous to aircraft, such as Cana­da geese, gulls, and large flocks of European starlings. An attractive alternative to turf grasses on some portions of airport properties is land cover that attracts fewer wildlife and generates income instead of consuming airport resources. Installing sets of solar panels (solar arrays) is one alternative land cover option. Although study results showed higher numbers of birds in the areas with solar arrays than in the grasslands, those birds seen (such as horned larks, house finches, and mourning doves) represented fewer and less hazardous species than those in [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/solar-arrays-at-airports-do-they-increase-birdstrike-risks/

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