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National Transportation Safety Board

NTSB hearing on Hudson bird-strike crash to focus on bird radars

eTN Staff Writer  Jun 11, 2009

Commercial bird-radar systems are available to US airports, and DeTect, who specializes in remote sensing technologies and systems for aviation safety, is calling on the FAA today to improve aviation safety. Gary W. Andrews, CEO of DeTect, said, "Our military already uses the technology, NASA uses bird radars, it is time to let our commercial airports use the systems."

In advance of Tuesday's National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) hearing on US Airways flight 1549 bird-related crash, the company has released an updated bird-radar, fact sheet.

Mr. Andrews said that: "Ongoing statements by the FAA and other bird-radar developers that bird radars are not ready for operational use, will take years more research, and could not have prevented the US Airways bird-strike related crash, simply are not correct. Bird radars, currently operating regularly, detect and track flocks of geese at ranges far beyond the 3 miles distance and 2,800 feet altitude, as was the flock that brought down flight 1549. These systems are already being used operationally to provide risk advisories to controllers and pilots."

To date, the FAA has spent two years and several million in taxpayer dollars evaluating only one Canadian-made experimental bird radar that its developer recently stated would have been unable to provide accurate avoidance guidance to US Airways Flight 1549, since at 2,800 feet and three miles from La Guardia the geese it struck were too far away.

"I am sorry that their system cannot detect birds very far away or very reliably, but our US-developed and manufactured MERLIN Aircraft Birdstrike Avoidance Radar can and regularly does so for our users, reliably detecting and tracking geese flocks as far away as 8 miles," said Mr. Andrews in response.

"MERLIN was privately developed, and we have systems that have been successfully operating since 2003 with a record of reducing birdstrikes and improving pilot and passenger safety," he said.

DeTect's MERLIN system is the most widely-used bird radar available with more operational installations than all other manufacturers combined. DeTect has over 45 of its MERLIN Avian Radar Systems in operation worldwide which includes systems used for operational birdstrike risk detection, tracking and alerting at commercial airports, military airfields, and space launch facilities, with real-time bird activity displays used by airfield managers, bird control staff, and air traffic controllers. The US Air Force has purchased six MERLIN systems to date based on a record of exceptional performance and improved flight safety and NASA uses the MERLIN system for detection, tracking, and warning of hazardous bird activity for the launch of the US$2 billion space shuttle.

"The MERLIN technology is proven and can be integrated immediately into commercial airport operations to better protect aircraft, pilots, and the flying public," Mr. Andrews concluded.

NTSB hearing on Hudson bird-strike crash to focus on bird radars
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