Bird strike prevention is a major concern for the airline industry. One carrier hopes engines with a predatory appearance will do the job.
Will illusionary hawk eyes be effective for bird strike prevention?
ILLUSTRATION: DON OSBY
The friendly skies aren’t all that friendly if you're a bird in the path of a jet airliner. In 1987, Japan Air Lines alone reported some 360 bird strikes, 118 of which involved ingestion by jet engines. Such incidents cause thousands of dollars in damage to engines annually and also present a significant safety hazard. As an experiment in bird strike prevention, JAL has painted a multicolored "hawk eye" on the engine inlet cones of two 747s used for Japanese domestic service. When a cone is spinning, it resembles the eyeball of a huge, predatory bird — an apparition that JAL officials hope will scare real birds out of harm's way.