Managing Wildlife Hazards at Airports - More Change and Guidance To Come


The FAA is updating and developing Advisory Circulars related to wildlife hazards

It has been over two years since the “Miracle on the Hudson” (January 15, 2009) increased awareness of bird strikes and overall wildlife hazard management concerns at airports. Since then, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and countless airports around the country have been working to assess, analyze, and manage wildlife hazard concerns. The FAA is currently updating and developing Advisory Circulars (AC) and regulations that may affect airports receiving federal grant-in-aid funding for both general aviation (GA) airports and commercial service airports. Five items in particular, will influence how, when, where, and which airports address wildlife hazards:

FAA Advisory Circular, Regulation, or Guidance Status Update
FAA AC 150/5200-36 “Qualifications for Wildlife Biologist Conducting Wildlife Hazard Assessments (WHA) and Training Curriculums for Airport Personnel Involved in Controlling Wildlife Hazards on Airports” Update The public comment period for the draft updated of the FAA’s AC has been completed and the final AC is anticipated by the end of the year. The circulated draft update contained considerable changes to the qualification requirements for biologist who conduct WHAs at airports. Among the proposed changes was the removal of the mentorship requirement, which may impact future requirements for wildlife biologists working at airports (or consultant qualifications). Another proposed change included decreasing the total annual hours of “Initial and Recurrent Training for Airport Personnel Actively Involved in Managing Hazardous Wildlife On or Near Airports.”
New FAA Guidance/Requirements for GA Airports related to Wildlife Hazards

The FAA is currently developing an approach for addressing wildlife hazard assessments and possibly site visits for general aviation airports(based on a program that has been proposed per a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendation). The approach will identify various levels of compliance required for GA airports based on aircraft operational levels and/or the number of based jets.
This information is in draft form and is anticipated to be finalized in 2012.

FAA AC 150/5200-33B “Hazardous Wildlife Attractants on or Near Airports” Update The updated AC should be available for public review and comment early next year.
FAR Part 139 - Certification of Airports Update During the next update to FAR Part 139, the FAA intends to remove the triggering events references that require airports to initiate a WHA (FAR Part 139.337 (b) (1) - (4)) and state that all FAR Part 139 airports should conduct a WHA. It is anticipated that language will be added to identify the timeframe that an airport needs to update their WHA.
This FAA update is anticipated to be released in 2012-2013.
New FAA Guidance Document to Address: “Protocol for the conduct and review of wildlife hazard assessments, wildlife hazard management plans and wildlife hazard site visits"

The FAA is developing a new guidance document to further define wildlife observation requirements and WHA document format. The intent of this guidance is to clarify FAR Part 139 WHA requirements and provide a document template/outline to streamline FAA review.
FAA’s release of the final guidance document is anticipated in early 2012.

FAA guidance information subject to change.

ESA Airports is currently working with our airport clients to keep them informed of proposed changes to guidance and regulations, develop budgeting information, funding strategies, and target schedules to address Wildlife Hazard Assessments and Wildlife Hazard Management Plans (WHMPs). We partner with our clients to provide the best combination of science, technology and value for these services. Best of all, we really know airports and the budgetary challenges WHA recommendations and WHMP implementation can create. 

Contact Steve Alverson at salverson [at] esassoc [dot] com for more information about these changing regulations or managing wildlife hazards at airports.