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Mar 6, 2013 9:30 PM by Andy Koen

Cadets hope to curtail bird strikes

COLORADO SPRINGS - Research being conducted by cadets at the US Air Force Academy could one day make commercial air travel safer. As part of a senior capstone project, a group of engineering and biology majors are studying the effects of light and sound to limit the number of bird strikes.

Their experiment consists of playing audio recording of various aircraft engines as well as goose distress calls while flashing lights from an Airbus A320 at native flocks of geese on the Academy grounds.

"What we're trying to do is scare the geese so that we can see what's effective and what isn't effective," explains C2C Trent Grabowski, a Biology major.

Bird strikes have become a big problem for both commercial and military flights. In 1995, 24 crew members aboard US Air Force Boeing E-3 Sentry AWACS died when the plane crashed shortly after take off from Elmendorf AFB. A report from the Federal Aviation Administration

A report by the Federal Aviation Administration shows between 1990 and 2001, bird strikes have caused $480,838,938 in damage.

Cadet Grabowski says take off and landing are the most dangerous times for any pilot, but military planes are especially prone to damage.

"Any time you are very close to the ground, it's during take off and landing of the aircraft and the Air Force does a lot of flying fast and low to the ground so that becomes a big problem,"

While their experiment is just getting off the ground, the cadets are hoping to reach even higher next year. They have plans to test their equipment on an unmanned drone for flight tests next year.

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