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.

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