Bird strikes on aircraft pose a real safety threat for both military and civil aviation. Depending on specific circumstances such as the speed of the aircraft, the point of impact, the mass of the bird, the number of birds and the type of aircraft, bird strikes can result in devastating accidents.
FlySafe aims at improving and harmonising national bird-warning systems into an extended and standardized System of Systems (SoS) to improve flight safety in northwest Europe for military Air Force operations.
FlySafe activities were carried out by the following industrial partners: University of Amsterdam, TNO Defence, Security and Safety, Robin Radar Systems, TriOpSys, SARA Computing and Networking Services, the Institute for Avian Research (Vogelwarte Helgoland), the Swiss and Dutch Ornithological Institutes (SOI and SOVON), Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), Meteo France, Belgian Meteorological Institute, IDA TU Braunschweig, Thales Raytheon Electronic Systems and Thales Alenia Space.
FlySafe activities aim at demonstrating the viability of a combined space and non-space system to deliver real time and forecast of bird migration information.
FlySafe users are the Air Forces of The Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany.
The main need expressed by the Air Force partners is to further reduce the risk of bird strike in the case of military Air Force operations. This has been translated by Air Force partners in the following requirements:
FlySafe system combines direct and indirect measurements of bird migration from space systems (including Earth observation and navigation satellites) with in situ bird migration information (from ground radar, military and weather radar) through models that generate three dimensional nowcast and forecast of bird migration.
Earth observation satellites are primarily used to collect environmental data including landscape, land use and weather properties which strongly condition birds behaviour and hence their local and global movements. Positioning satellites are used to collect information on single bird species by using system like GPS-ARGOS that can track and trace the dynamic of movements from local up to global scale.
Two main demonstration services are provided by FlySafe:
Space technologies play an important role for the characterization of global movements of birds and, indirectly for provision of environmental parameters that indicate initiation of migration, stopover behavior, shortage of foods and other parameters that together are used to model and predict bird migration. Models use earth observation data on landscape, land use, environmental and weather conditions together with global bird migration routes provided by navigation based systems and combine those data sources with in situ observation of bird migration to generate quasi real time and forecast of bird migration.
FlySafe activities have been completed.
The following results have been achieved by FlySafe:
A number of spin-off activities have also been initiated thanks to FlySafe. These include:
In the summer of 2010, following the successful demonstration of Robin technology as part of FlySafe system, a new company, Robin Radar Systems, was spun-out of TNO. Robin Radar Systems provides bird strike risk reduction services based on the exploitation of avian radars (military and small range) which were enhanced, validated and promoted by ESA through the FlySafe project.
Since 2010, Robin Radar Systems has grown from 4 to 25 employees and has won contracts in the Netherlands, Belgium, UK, Turkey, Estonia, Bulgaria, Poland, France, Norway and Spain. It is currently expanding its business towards the Middle East.
Recently, the Minister of Dutch Economic affairs labelled Robin as one of 100 most innovative SME companies in the Netherlands.
Robin’s success has been recognised by external investors, who have gone on to become shareholders. In particular, Inkef Capital (ABP) and the Mainport Innovation Fund (KLM, Schiphol Airport a.o.) are providing substantial funding in support of the company’s international roll-out and its ambitious innovation agenda.
The service capabilities demonstrated through FlySafe could pave the way for new developments to serve wider geographic areas and user communities. Many different communities need more comprehensive, easily accessible and understandable information about bird distribution and movements at different scales and their interaction with the environment.