Complete Wildlife Risk Management Series

Late last year, I posted that I was writing on another blog a complete series on an ISO31000 view of airport wildlife risk management.

Well, that 7-part series is now complete and to view the whole series head over to my author page on New Airport Insider or you can read each post by clicking the individual links below.

While you are over there, why not leave a comment on your experiences, opinions and ideas?


image: (cc) Dorte


Wildlife Hazard Training with a Difference

Airport wildlife risk management has been a big topic for me over the past 6-12 months. I’ve posted on the subject a bit here and over on New Airport Insider.

But today, I’m going to talk about it in a different context.

Australians love to brag that the majority of the world’s deadliest land snakes originate from our brown land. While, the veracity of that claim varies between Internet lists, snakes are a fact of life down here.

Out in regional Queensland, my home airport has had a few encounters with snakes of the deadly kind.

Early last year, a rather large Eastern Brown snake tried to climb aboard a Q400. First, he took a passing look at the stairs before heading to the main landing gear. He was eventually herded up into an electric tug and contained while our friendly, neighbourhood snake catcher came to our rescue.

Unfortunately, our friendly, neighbourhood snake catcher moved away last year and in preparation for this season’s biblical plague of serpentine demons, we have had to take matters into our own hands.

To defeat your enemy, you must know your enemy

Dan, Snake Wrangler

Last week, a group of volunteers from my airport team and I took part in a snake handling course and what a great course it was.

A couple of months ago, I whinged about a gun safety course I attended. It was poorly organised and at times, in my opinion, unsafe. This course was a completely different environment.

Both courses involved danger and risk but this course was well structured and appropriately resourced. The training team from Blackadder Reptiles progressively introduced us to the skills required and to the more dangerous species.

We started off with a small python (non-venomous) before moving on to a tree snake (also non-venomous). Once we had the climbing snake capture technique mastered and had gotten over our nerves, we moved on to the venomous varieties. This included the often ranked number 2 – the Eastern Brown. We finished the day off with a large python (only about 2m long) and a solo effort with another tree snake.

We’ll use this training to apply for our Damage Mitigation Permit. Once this is in place, we’ll be ready to relocate snakes posing a risk to passengers, workers and visitors at our airport.

Below is a short video showing me tackling the Eastern Brown.

Free iBook: Remote Strip Operations

In what started out as a little experimenting with the iBooks Author program, I have put together a book for remote airstrip operators.

iBook Cover

It’s a nice little book aimed at people with little aviation experience who have found themselves responsible for a remote mining or community airstrip. It’s got plenty of pictures and even a couple of (basic) animations.

When used in conjunction with some good training, it serves as a guide and reference for airstrip officers around the world.

And….it’s free on the iBook Store!

The book’s development came off the back of a bit of work I did for the BARS program and I hope, sets the foundation for a new aerodrome reporting handbook in the future.

Please check it out and leave a review or comment on the iBook Store and here.


Wasting Time on Wunway Diwection Vawiation

A news story on Twitter (via @Speedbird_NCL) caught my eye the other day. The gist of it was that due to fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetic field, the numbers assigned to runways in the US were being re-designated due to changes in the runway’s magnetic direction.

runway number

And I thought, what a load of rubbish!

But let’s take a quick step back just to put everyone on the same page. I don’t want to assume anything, so let’s go through the scenario one step at a time.

1. Runways are designated by numbers which correspond to their magnetic direction (rounded to the nearest ten with the last digit dropped off). For example a runway aligned east-west will be designated runways 09 & 27 or runway 09/27 denoting that operating in one direction aligns with 090 degrees and 270 in the other direction.

2. The Earth’s magnetic poles do not align with its geographic poles. The magnetic north pole (where your compass points) is not in the same place as where you find the red & white pole about which the Earth spins or anywhere near where Santa lives.

3. The Earth’s magnetic field changes over time in complex ways. Meaning that north on your compass today won’t necessarily equal where your compass will point in the future (it should be fine tomorrow but give is 50 years and it will change).

Okay, from that it seems quite reasonable that we would change the runway designation as the magnetic variation changes. But we are missing something here, I think.

While the method by which we designate runway is based on magnetic variation and the method does provide a quick check that you are on the right runway, is that really why we give runways numbers?

I don’t think so.

We did need a way of distinguishing runways from each other and using their general direction is a great way of doing this but I think the method has overtaken the objective in importance.

My first concern is with the change process. I have found pilots to be creatures of habit. The idea that one day a pilot would fly into a regular airport of theirs and find the runway number different, I think, introduces more risk and it addresses.

Plus, there are also some good reasons for not following this method of runway designation to the nth degree. Here are two:

  1. Generally, runways are aligned to prevailing wind conditions. This means that runways in an area are likely to be aligned in a similar, if not the same, direction. It would be a good idea then to designate the runways at airport A according to the “rule” and the runways at airport B. I am pretty sure this is the reason why the east-west runway at Essendon airport (in Melbourne, Australia) is “correctly” designated as 08/26 but the east-west runway at nearby Tullamarine is designated as 09/27 despite the fact that both runways are 3 degrees off 080-260.
  2. At some airports, the cross-runway design might be 100 degrees off the main runway. This could lead to a runway 03 and a runway 13 or a runway 07 and a runway 17. This, of course, could lead to confusion. Sydney International has this very problem and it has chosen to designate its cross runway as 07/25 instead of 06/24 to avoid confusion with its runways aligned to 16/34.

The problem of blindly following the method and not the objective is, in my opinion, rather common. When doing something, it obviously helps to ask why you are doing it and that answer should not be because the method requires it. It should be to address a risk.

Elmer Fudd

The Best Job in the World

I am overcome with the desire to gloat. I have, in my humble opinion, the best job in the world. Now this might be the exhaustion talking but this week has had a great mix of new experiences, further development in existing skills and a real sense of progress.

The reason I’m exhausted is that my schedule this week has been chaotic. I’ve worked on average only 11 hours or so for each of the first three days this week but those hours have included evenings, mornings and a fair bit of back of the clock “flying”.

In the last 24 hours, I’ve participated in a high-level meeting on airport strategy and key action items with senior management, been the aerodrome works safety officer for an asphalt crew conducting repairs to the apron, refined our internal reporting processes, collated key statistics for our information centre, negotiated with a contractor on scope changes and used a back-pack, petrol-driven blower to clear away FOD on the recently repaired apron, on my own, at 0400, in a slight drizzle.

The only downside was accepting the resignation of a good worker and friend.

Other than that, I reckon I have the best job in the world.

Runway Sunrise

Guest Posting – Airport Wildlife Risk Management

Look out!A couple of month’s ago, I was kindly asked to write some articles for a new online magazine. The topic of choice was wildlife risk management.

As it turns out, my first article was the launch article and it went live today!

You can check it out here and keep an eye out for the six follow up articles at the New Airport Insider.

* image (cc)

The Customer is Always…

When I started this blog, I was all about airside. I was an aerodrome inspector, after all, and for me, it was all about the planes. Then I went and got a job running an airport and I had to start worrying about that other category of customer, passengers.

Generally, our airport operates smoothly. We have a very high percentage of routine travellers who know the drill and probably even know the staff. Actually, now that I think about it, that could lead to complacency if we are not careful.

But we have had a couple of very minor events involving “disgruntled passengers”. The most recent one revolved around a remark made by an airport staff member that wasn’t taken in the spirit, in which, it was perhaps offered. It wasn’t by itself offensive, it just didn’t suit the situation.

The matter has been dealt with quite effectively by the team but I backed it up with some recent discussion on passenger interaction at our weekly toolbox talk.

To make my point, I borrowed (stole) from one of the greatest flight attendants of all time – John Witney.

John Witney

I’ve taken from John’s teachings that all pax have the H.A.L.T characteristics. They are most likely:

  • Hungry
  • Angry
  • Lonely; and
  • Tired

Therefore, they might not be up for a joke. They might not even want to chat. They might be rushing back to their fathers beside for his final moments and they just got bumped off the flight due to weight issues and they left their wallet in the taxi!

I offered the advice to the team that they should strive to be vanilla. Sweet, inviting, capable of complementing and enhancing nearly everything thrown at them. Be receptive and open but don’t venture too much. Play it safe but friendly.

Maybe this is too conservative but CS is not an area that I am overly familiar with. Luckily for the team, they don’t just have to rely on my plagiarised and ill-thought out advice. The contractor is going to organise some formal training in customer service.

I think I might sit in on that too.