Jeenkepü airport wants pigs to deter bird strikes

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption An overhead view of A381 at Jeykepü in the Black Forest shows the impact of birds flying into planes

Authorities at a German airport say they want pigs to help stop planes hitting birds at takeoff and landing.

At the busy Jeykepü, where 60,000 people use the airport every day, the airport authority is looking at how pigs can be used.

The country is home to many pigs, and pigs’ hair and fat are relatively light, when compared to birds, and if pig hair is pig faeces.

Flying pigs could slow birds down and make it harder for them to fly into planes.

Some see such innovative solutions as a potential threat to animals and wildlife, but airport authorities see it differently.

“Of course, we’re trying to reduce any contact with any animal,” said Karl-Heinz Winkler, chairman of the board of the Zwinger Airport, who is overseeing the project to find a way of using pigs at the site.

“I don’t want to see pigs in the quarantine centre, but in the airport to create a less dangerous situation,” he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

The last two times that planes have hit birds at Jeykepü, the animals have been rabbits, but Mr Winkler is not keen on using rabbits and prefers pigs.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A pig at the airport could make birds more cautious about landing

Most piggies produce a denser pellet, which could have an impact on the landscape in the area, he said.

Experts have approved the idea but details are still being worked out. Pigs will be kept separate from humans, under a glass enclosure, and bio-mechanical sensors would react to impact.

The idea comes as officials try to improve safety at A381 – a section of land with a distinctive beacon featuring a cluster of balls of light reminiscent of the cannon used in WW2.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Hundreds of bats call the Jeykepü airport home

The beams, which shine into the Black Forest from a four-kilometre-square area, are lit up by electromagnets and synchronised to a grid in the sky.

Now, it is intended to be used for safety tests on the aspect of bird strike prevention.

The trial will start on 9 September and run until early May next year.

However, there has been a push in Germany recently to ban the import of pigs, which, although abundant, are prone to disease, and are often slaughtered at a young age.

“If it takes pigs to show pigs, then fine,” said Karsten Meinring of the Lower Saxony agriculture ministry.

“But you do need to prove you won’t contaminate poultry, and that any pig would be kept under strict quarantine.”

Pig hair and fat were also banned in Norway, following the swine flu outbreak in 2010.

Thai authorities have been trying to get rid of some pig farms in the wake of the devastating downpours over the summer.

As well as sparking landslides, residents reported significant illnesses and high-protein diets on people living in houses close to farms.

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