Launch of bird collision avoidance system will save lives, money

Abdulmohsen Ibrahim Al-Hobayb
Updated 03 January 2018
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Launch of bird collision avoidance system will save lives, money

RIYADH: A highly innovative system that can save thousands of lives and millions of dollars in losses inflicted by collisions between aircraft and birds was launched here on Tuesday.
The Bird Collision Avoidance System (BCAS), developed by the Bulgarian company Volacom, has been recognized by the General Authority of Civil Aviation, the state-owned aviation regulatory authority.
“The BCAS provides fully automatic detection, recognition and tracking of detected objects by panoramic thermal imaging cameras, working around the clock in all weather conditions,” said Abdulmohsen Ibrahim Al-Hobayb, general manager of Saudi Information Co. (SIT), a Saudi company which has teamed up with Volacom to introduce the BCAS in the local aviation market.
Al-Hobayb added: “Our devotion to inventing and perfecting the BCAS has resulted in a unique high-tech solution to a real-life problem … we strongly believe that our efforts in Saudi Arabia with business partners SIT will bring Saudi airports’ safety to the next level.”
Nowadays, owing to the constantly increasing air traffic, collisions between birds and aircraft are among the most serious hazards that most airports around the world have to face, he said.
He pointed out that most bird strikes usually occur when an aircraft is cruising at low altitude. Therefore, the airport environment, mainly the runways, surrounding areas and ascending and descending paths, are considered the most dangerous zones for bird strikes.
“This also involves the most critical phases of a flight, namely take-off and landing,” explained Ludmil Manassiev, former director of the Airports, Aviation Security and Air Navigation Services Directorate, CAA Bulgaria.
He said that the direct costs of a bird strike could be significant, starting at $16,000 for a new engine blade and going up to $5 million for a new engine. “Including the other associated repair costs, the damage could swell up to $6 million in addition to the indirect costs owing to flight delays, out-of-service costs, passenger compensations, aircraft replacement, etc,” said Manassiev.
Among the unique features of the system, which can be tailor-made to meet the specific needs of each client, is the proprietary acoustic deterrence signal called ASR — Acoustic Startle Reflex.
Volacom together with SIT, has been carefully evaluating the specific needs of Saudi airports to design the most appropriate solutions. “This is a good example of how collaboration between different stakeholders can bring about a safer environment for all of us,” Manassiev said.


Joy as US-seized bells return to Philippine church

Updated 2 min 12 sec ago
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Joy as US-seized bells return to Philippine church

  • US troops carted away the bronze objects as trophies in reprisal for a surprise 1901 attack
  • For the people of Balangiga the bells are a symbol of the Philippines’ long struggle for independence

BALANGIGA, Philippines: A sleepy central Philippine town erupted in joy on Saturday as bells looted from its church more than a century ago by vengeful US troops were to be turned over to the community.
Children waving bell-shaped signs and tearful residents in Balangiga gathered to welcome home the three bells that are a deep local source of pride, and which the US flew to Manila this week after decades of urging by the Philippines.
US troops carted away the bronze objects as trophies, after razing the town and killing potentially thousands of Filipinos, in reprisal for a surprise 1901 attack that left 48 of their comrades dead.
For the people of Balangiga the bells are a symbol of the Philippines’ long struggle for independence, and a dark chapter which is the subject of an annual re-enactment and remembrance event locally.
“It’s not just me but the whole town is walking in the clouds because the bells are finally with us,” 81-year-old Nemesio Duran told AFP.
“We are the happiest people on Earth now,” he added, noting he is descended from the boy who rang one of the bells, long said to have signalled the attack on the Americans.
The bells arrived in Balangiga late Friday ahead of an official handover ceremony set for later Saturday, but the town’s streets were already crowded with people and vendors selling T-shirts saying “Balangiga bells finally home.”
The ceremony will be not far from the town plaza that holds a monument with statues of the American soldiers having breakfast as the Filipino revolutionaries raise their machetes at the start of the onslaught.
Manila has been pushing for the bells’ return since at least the 1990s, with backing from Philippine presidents, its influential Catholic Church and supporters in the United States.
But the repatriation was long held back by some American lawmakers and veterans who viewed the bells, two of which were in the US state of Wyoming and the third at a US base in South Korea, as tributes to fallen soldiers.
A confluence of factors earlier this year, that included a key veterans’ group dropping its opposition, culminated in the bells landing in Manila aboard a US military cargo plane on Tuesday for a solemn handover.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, 73, bluntly called on Washington in a 2017 speech: “Give us back those Balangiga bells. They are not yours.”
His arrival in power in mid-2016 was marked by moves to split from Manila’s historical ally and former colonial master the United States. At the same time Duterte signalled an end to the standoff with Beijing over the disputed South China Sea.
Yet for some in Balangiga the bells’ return is also a somber occasion tinged with the pain of the past, which has been passed from generation to generation.
“It’s mixed emotions because the bells also remind me of what happened,” Constancia Elaba, 62, told AFP, adding how she grew up hearing stories of the episode from her father.
“It was painful and you cannot take it away from us. We can never forget that,” she said.