Gatwick airport - A case study

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Courtesy of Scarecrow Bio-Acoustic Systems Limited

These new systems included de-icing equipment and bird control and dispersal equipment. GATWICK has used SCARECROW vehicle based systems since 1985, regularly upgraded as our technology developed, so it was no surprise to be asked to demonstrate ULTIMA and to install two V3 systems in May 2010.

We are grateful to Andy Crabb, Airside Operations Manager for providing this Case Study.

Paul Hayes recently visited Gatwick Airport’s Airfield Operations Manager, Andy Crabb, to find out how he deals with the various threats to aircraft safety from the wildlife sector. Although the general situation was discussed, it soon became apparent that Scarecrow’s Ultima v3 tablet and software plays a pivotal part in Andy’s control systems.

PH. How long have you used Scarecrow products for?
AC. All of our vehicles are fitted with a Scarecrow product because, ultimately, bird hazards are our biggest risk on the airfield. So everybody plays a part in bird hazard management but we have two vehicles like the one in which we are now seated, fitted with Ultimate version 3. We have another seven vehicles with Scarecrow Premier 1500s fitted, which basically produce distress calls but have no data logging facility.

PH. So obviously you do rely on them a good deal.
AC. Very much so.

PH. And when did you switch over to Ultima?
AC. Roughly about 12 to 14 months ago, and that was because of new ownership. Our new owners wanted to make sure that we had the best tools and the best equipment to do the job. We had Premier units before and we use them as a sort of contingency so if we are doing some work on the Ultima systems and we need to take them out of play for a time, we have a ruggedized laptop which we use with an Excel spreadsheet enabling us to continue logging bird activity. Under these circumstances we will deploy distress calls using the Premier 1500 but everything has to be done manually rather than using the touch controls on the tablet. And that isn’t efficient because, whilst somebody’s got their head down into the laptop, they’re not looking out of the window and doing the job of bird control as they should.

PH. So you find the Ultima is a real boon in that sense.
AC. That’s the first improvement but the second improvement, for very selfish reasons, is that it saves my time because, with the old system, putting it into an Excel spreadsheet, we have to manipulate the data.

For instance if you want to search how many crows we’ve had this month, yes I can do that, but manually and then I’d have to search where these crows were; on the eastern end, western end, or to the north. How many large flocks? Were there any starlings?

That actually took a lot of management time, and I’ve got better things to do than generate bird report queries. With the Ultima, every touch you make on the tablet generates the report automatically which is a big saving because management time is one of our highest costs.

PH. You went from Premier 1500 to Ultima. How did you find the switchover?
AC. We had Ultima version 2 originally and were given a user guide. We found that if anyone was used to working with a database it was really, really easy to learn.

One of the things that I was concerned about was that we have a minimum of 28 different people that are expected to use this, so I didn’t want to introduce something that had to rely on a user with a high degree of IT skills. I’m not employing people for their IT skills. I’m employing them to keep a safe airfield, and they’re not keeping a safe airfield if they’re worrying about IT technology.

The big selling point for me, again for selfish reasons, is that we spend less time training. We produced an idiots guide – a quick way to navigate your way around the system, on one piece of A4 paper on a Word document with some screenshots.

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