Airport Director: Preparation is Key

Word of the US AirwaysHudson River plane crash spread quickly to Philadelphia International Airport sending shockwaves throughout the terminals especially for passengers who were about to board US Airways planes.

“I was shocked in the beginning but then they said there weren't any fatalities involved,” said traveler Grace Lee from Los Angeles.

They were particularly surprised to learn the cause of the accident. The jetliner had a collision with a flock of birds, which disabled both of the plane's engines, according to investigators.

“I don't know what you can do. It's part of nature I guess,” said Dan Barwick of North Carolina.

Mark Gale, deputy director of aviation for the Philadelphia International Airport, says prevention is key.

He says it's not uncommon for birds to strike planes although they usually don’t cause crashes.

But to be safe, commercial airports are required to have a wildlife hazard management plan in place.

“They involve a variety of techniques from how we maintain our grass to try to remove vegetation and brush or any other types of shrubs that might be attractive to birds or other animals,” said Gale.

Gale says the airport will use sirens and pyrotechnic devices to scare the animals, if necessary.

“We have operations people here seven days a week, 24 hours a day patrolling the airfield looking for things like birds and other types of hazard to aircraft,” Gale said.

He says the unexpected can always happen, as it did Thursday in New York, but he and most travelers expressed relief all the passengers there made it out alive.

“I think it's probably an individual occurrence and US Airways has always been a good airlines so I'm not worried,” said traveler Lisa Pinto.

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