By Donald Wittkowski – September 13, 2019
By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Ocean City and the Federal Aviation Administration are planning to install artificial turf at the municipal airport.
Well, if you think that sounds like a bird-brained scheme, think again. Actually, the artificial turf is part of a plan to outwit the seagulls and other birds that congregate at the airport and create a potential danger for planes.
“The biggest thing is safety. It keeps the birds away, so birds and planes don’t mix,” Mayor Jay Gillian told members of City Council during their meeting Thursday night.
The city is receiving a $618,764 grant from the FAA to install artificial turf in different areas of the airport, including both ends of the runway. The artificial turf will discourage birds from grazing next to the runway or making the bayside property their home.
City Business Administrator George Savastano explained that birds prefer natural grass, so by installing artificial turf near the runway the hope is that they will go elsewhere.
“Birds want to eat grass. They won’t graze on artificial turf,” Savastano said in an interview after the Council meeting.
Collisions between birds and planes are relatively common at airports nationwide. FAA statistics show that planes collided with wildlife, primarily birds, an average of more than 40 times per day in 2018.
In 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 struck a flock of geese just after takeoff from New York’s LaGuardia Airport and lost power after the birds were sucked into the jet engines. The pilots glided the airliner into the Hudson River in what became famously known as the “Miracle on the Hudson” because everyone on board was saved. READ MORE . . .