Project Winchell – Royal Air Force
Rick de Ronde
Robin Radar Systems
Laan van Waalhaven 355
The Hague, Zuid Holland 2497 GM, Netherlands
Abstract: Bird strikes pose a severe threat to military aircraft. Although fatal accidents are rare, bird strikes can cause considerable damage to aircraft, which can be expensive and debilitating – keeping aircraft grounded and dysfunctional. Most bird activity happens in lower airspace, so bird strikes are most likely to occur during take-off, initial climb, and landing. With the coastal location and close proximity to a number of pig farms which attract birds, RAF Lossiemouth station is particularly vulnerable to the threat of bird strikes. The decision to base the Poseidon at RAF Lossiemouth required a review of the bird strike risk due to the increased risk-to-life of a multi-crew platform operating from an airfield with a high local bird population. In response to this threat, Project Winchell was introduced as a 12-month ‘proof of concept’ trial that used Robin Radar System’s advanced 3D Bird Radar, MAX®, to map avian activity around the airfield. Over the past 3 years, MAX® has helped the RAF mitigate bird strikes and provided 24/7 actionable data about bird movements, assisting in planning and managing the risks posed by birds to flight operations. Before the introduction of the radar, Lossiemouth minimised flying activity during peak bird activity to mitigate the bird strike risk. The data provided has enabled Lossiemouth to reduce the level of restriction on operations during peak bird times, which has increased the flying window. The findings from Project Winchell have also provided valuable research for other RAF stations, tackling the threat of bird strikes in a more strategic way to reduce the danger and impact of bird strikes at military air bases. More information on this project can be found: https://www.raf.mod.uk/our-organisation/units/raf-safety-centre/air-clues/raf-safety-centre-documents/air-clues-safety-magazine-39/
Rick de Ronde
Rick de Ronde has over thirty years of experience in the field of military aviation, beginning his career as an Officer with the Royal Netherlands Air Force, and for the last five years, as Account Manager with the Netherlands-based Robin Radar Systems. Rick’s expertise shapes the military market, where he works with customers such as the Royal Air Force and Royal Netherlands Air Force. Robin’s cutting-edge radar technology helps these users to mitigate bird strikes and detect drones to protect critical operations while improving safety and efficiency. Rick’s journey is a testament to safeguarding the skies, ensuring operational excellence, and fostering innovation in the defence and aviation sectors.