A new radar system to prevent bird strikes on aircraft has been installed at Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt Airport.

Known as "MAX”, the system was supplied by the Dutch company Robin Radar Systems. This marks the first time that the technology has been deployed at a German airport.

The new system replaces another from the same company. Installed in 2016, it monitored the southern runway only. The phased array antenna now enables around-the-clock full 3D detection of bird movement within a radius of 10km, encompassing the entire airport site. Using specially-designed software, the size, height and flight direction of bird flocks are identified and displayed. This enables potential collisions between birds and aircraft to be calculated in advance and averted systematically during take-off and landing. 

To disperse flocks, BER employs pyrotechnics that produce a loud bang when fired. Furthermore, a hunting dog and, if necessary, a falconer with birds of prey are used to deter birds at the German hub. In addition, specially designed planting and development at the airport means that birds are afforded little opportunity to breed.

Upon entering an aircraft engine, birds can cause engine damage, thereby representing a serious risk factor. So far, there has been no risk of bird strike on the approximately 1,500-hectare site at BER. Regardless, both the airport and airlines using it make great efforts to avoid bird strikes.

“We are going to great lengths to offer our customers the highest possible level of safety at BER,” said Thomas Hoff Andersson, chief operating officer at Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg

“This includes adoption of the latest technologies, whether in the terminals or on the aprons. The MAX radar allows us to detect flocks of birds more precisely, scare them away more systematically and thus prevent bird strikes more effectively.”

Image: Günter Wicker/ Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg