Bird repellents on planes are not scientifically proven!

Airplane Engine safety for ground crew, but what about the birds?

If you’ve ever been face-to-face with an airplane, you may have noticed these white swirls painted on the engines. As silly as they might seem at first sight, these serve an important role in airport safety. In an article by Kathleen Villaluz, we’re explained the true purpose of these marks.


Keeping employees safe

First and foremost, the swirls are used as an important safety measure for ground crew as they warn the staff about running engines. When an engine starts, you can see a white blur or a riveting swirl depending on the speed of rotation. This is an important visual sign for people to steer clear. A common assumption is that staff would simply hear a roaring jet engine approaching as the sound is quite deafening, however it’s not that simple. The ground crew is geared in hearing protection and although it doesn’t completely block out the sound, it makes it unclear on the location of the noise. Furthermore, there could be multiple engines running at once, making it difficult to differentiate which ones are running from the ones that are not. This simple measure of painting a little white swirl on the engine is an important one to keep employees safe. Although this is the primary purpose of the marks, the second concern is bird safety.

ground crew at airport

What about the birds?

Villaluz’s article mentions that the swirls are also a preventative measure to keep birds away from running engines. The origins of this solution stem from the early 1980s when bird-strike accidents started costing aviation companies large amounts in fines. How the swirls work: In-flight the speed of the engines cause the swirls to flicker which scare the birds and therefore keep them away. Although this is one of the reasons for painting the marks in the first place there is no scientific proof to support this solution. A counter-argument was proposed in Boeing’s aero magazine in an article co-written by a pilot and a researcher. The authors state that the prior solution is a common misconception and that birds generally avoid planes because of aerodynamic & engine noise, which would mean that birds steer clear of planes before even seeing the marks on the engines. Considering this theory is not scientifically proven, it is crucial for airports to find the right solution for chasing birds as they cause an important safety concern.

Bird deterring in airports – what’s the big deal?

Landstrips are a popular place for birds to gather. The risk attached to this is very underrated in smaller airports mainly due to budget restrictions, however the reality is that bird infestation is one of the biggest threats to airport safety. Bird-strikes occurring during landings and takeoffs jeopardize the safety of passengers, in-flight staff & planes alike, not to mention hundreds of thousands of birds lose their lives by getting caught in the engines. Just in North America, bird strikes cost more than a billion dollars a year to the industry. It is in everyone’s best interest for airports to find an effective solution to the problems attached with bird infestation. Lucky for them, there’s Lockbird.

Risk of bird strike

The safe, effective & intelligent solution to deter birds

The most effective way to keep birds away – Lockbird’s services, deploying specifically approved laser systems mounted on a robotic arm which can scan a designated area for days on end. The Lockbird laser detects the presence of birds then projects a laser which the bird detects as another being, hence scaring the bird and chasing it away. The lasers are harmless to birds, planes and humans alike, therefore making it the perfect solution to prevent bird-strikes whether you are a small or large airport. For more information on our bird deterrent solutions, please contact one of our representatives at


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