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New drone species spotted at Southampton

Bird spotters and passengers passing through Southampton Airport on the south coast of England may have noticed a new species hovering around. Designed to look like a falcon, Robird is actually an ornithopter – a type of drone that is used to mimic the actions of a bird of prey in efforts to deter real birds from airports.

Preventing bird strikes (when a bird collides with an aircraft during take-off or landing) is a constant battle for airports, with traditional bird scaring methods losing their impact over time and airports often resorting to lethal deterrents to avoid a threat to flight safety.

In partnership with NATS and Clear Flight Solutions, Southampton Airport has trialled Robird as a deterrent that keeps birds including corvids, birds of prey, pigeons and gulls well away from the airport’s flight paths  without causing them any harm.

Dan Townsend, Southampton Airport’s airside operations and safety manager, said: “At Southampton Airport, we invest every effort to make sure our airfield is as safe as possible. Robird is an innovative idea that we’ve found to be an effective and durable way to reduce bird strikes – so you could say this idea really has wings.”

Nico Nijenhuis, CEO, Clear Flight Solutions, added: “It has been a pleasure working with Ferrovial and Southampton International Airport. The professional approach to integrating Robird into airside operations has led to a European first, with fantastic effects on bird problems and bird strikes. We are looking forward to continuing our co-operation with both parties.”

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