During a test at Brussels Airport, a drone with a speaker was used to scare birds away while the airport remained in use normally. The aim was to investigate the extent to which drones can be used safely for bird control at an airport. The test was carried out by Brussels Airport’s Bird Control Unit in collaboration with air traffic control skeyes and drone operator Citymesh.

Birds scare away

Normally drone flights are completely out of the question near an airport. But drones can also play a useful role at an airport, provided that the flights are well coordinated. For example, drones can potentially be used to scare away birds that endanger starting or landing planes. Bird strike is one of the biggest causes of accidents in manned military and civil aviation. Airport managers are therefore doing everything they can to keep birds away from the runways.

Given the large area of the airport area, the staff of the Bird Control Unit normally move with cars, and during a recent test, it was examined whether a drone can be used instead to detect, monitor and even drive birds away. For the latter, the DJI M300 drone was equipped with a speaker that can play sounds of birds of prey, as a natural deterrent.

The test flights were operated by operator Citymesh, in collaboration with the skeyes air traffic controllers and the Bird Control Unit of Brussels Airport. For safety, the drone flew at a safe distance from the existing aircraft and was only flown between take-offs and landings. The normal course of events at the airport did not have to be interrupted further.

Previous test

The bird control drone test follows a earlier innovative pilot project at Brussels Airport, in April 2021, when a drone flying above the airport was driven via a 5G connection by a pilot 100 km away. The purpose of that trial was to investigate whether drones can be used at the airport for inspections and surveillance.