Airport tests new way to avoid deadly bird strikes

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Dayton International Airport in Ohio is experimenting with a new, gentler way to prevent potentially deadly collisions between birds and planes.

Airports around the world work hard to keep birds away from their runways. Some resort to shooting or poisoning large flocks.

But officials at Dayton are planning to plant tall prairie grass as a deterrent. The thinking is that heavy birds like geese, which cause the most damage to planes, avoid long grasses because they fear predators might be hiding in them.

The plan calls for up to 300 acres of the airfield's 2,200 non-aeronautical acres to be turned into tall-grass prairie.

There are more than 10,000 airplane bird strikes a year in the U.S. Most do little or no damage to the plane, but some cause catastrophic damage. The forced landing of a US Airways jet in the Hudson River in 2009 - often called The Miracle on the Hudson - occurred after Canadian geese were sucked into both engines, causing the plane to lose power.

The most frequent problem is damage to the engines. The FAA estimates that such damage costs the industry $950 million a year.