Neighbors unhappy with bird cannons near Nashville airport

Photo: WKRN
Photo: WKRN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Two of the most crucial times for a flight are during takeoff and landing. That’s why the FAA requires airports, including Nashville International, to have a plan in place to keep birds away from the runways.

You may remember that Flight 1549 was hit by a flock of Canada Geese, in what’s called a “bird strike,” seven years ago in New York.

To keep this from happening at BNA, the airport has bird cannons, which are a type of “bird scarer.” They’re propane gas tanks with tubes attached. The gas is shot out of the tube to make a loud noise.

The cannons are pre-set by a dial, so the 15 tanks at BNA remain unmanned.

The airport says they’re effective, but neighbors are complaining about the noise.

“I’ve worked all my life to get to the point to be semi-retired,” said Donelson resident Jimmy Carter. “I come out of my house every day hearing noises that would run anybody off.”

Carter lives about a mile from the BNA runway, where 440 flights take off and land every day.

He says it’s not the planes that bother him– it’s the bird cannons.

“They place these cannons in numerous areas out there unmanned, and they leave them to just go off whether there are birds or not,” he told News 2. “We citizens suffer the consequences.”

Airport management says the best way to keep wildlife off the runways is bird cannons. They say the cannons don’t harm the birds, and they keep them from roosting near the runway.

“We’re obviously sensitive to complaints,” said Tom Jurkovich with the Metro Nashville Airport Authority. “We don’t do it at night, we only do it as necessary, and it’s important that we communicate with folks who hear these sounds that they know what it is.”

But even with the bird cannons, Jurkovich says there have been 83 bird strikes so far this year. While no planes have been disabled, there has been damage.

Still, Jurkovich says the airport will stay with the program.

“It’s been very effective and it’s something that we’ll have to continue doing,” he said.

The airport has a staff of six people who work to keep all wildlife off the runways, including birds, coyotes, deer and fox.