Wednesday, February 11, 2009

bird strikes at JFK

12.17.08. JFK airport in Queens is located right next to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, and "bird strikes"--when birds collide with airplanes--are a common problem. In the early 1990s attempts were made to reduce the number of bird strikes by shooting birds; then in 1996 falcons were introduced in an attempt to scare birds away (see, for example, a 1997 article in the New York Times). Both tactics resulted in a noticeable decrease in the number of bird strikes, as seen in data on the number of bird strikes per year at JFK (the graph shown here is from Garber, SD. “Effectiveness of falconry in reducing risk of bird strikes under study at JFK International.” International Civil Aviation Organization Journal. 51(7):5-7, 1996). Students from Ms. Utton's Independent Projects Week (IPW) team and from Mr. Seymour's math classes were given the data and asked to make a plot like the one shown here. In addition to providing practice with making graphs, the plot helped illustrate the story behind the data and helped connect the data with events at JFK. Incidently, shortly after this lesson was taught a plane from Laguardia was forced to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River due to birds getting sucked into the engine. Bird strikes happen!