BIRDS flying into the propellers of planes is a multi-million pound problem that plagues airports around the world – but Brighton Girls has set its sights on finding a solution.
GCSE Design and Innovation students at Brighton Girls visited Brighton City Airport, formerly Shoreham Airport, yesterday (Wed Dec 6) with their prototype designs for preventing what is known in the aviation industry as ‘bird strike’ and costs millions of pounds in delayed flights, compensation claims and engine repair.

The students received the brief from newly-appointed D&I teacher Kris Pointer back in September as part of a revamped curriculum that will see students tackling real-world problems and challenged to find design solutions.

During the visit, the airport’s chief executive Rob Cooke said: “Like all airports, we do a lot to mitigate the issue of bird strike but it is still a problem. Here in Shoreham we are close to the sea, close to the River Adur and we have a lot of standing water from nearby building works. On top of that there has been a lot of wet weather and all of this means the presence of gulls in great numbers. While we do everything from playing recorded bird distress signals from a loud speaker to using pyrotechnics to maintaining long grass which birds don’t like, we still have had 14 bird strikes this year and – like every airport in the world – we would love a solution.”

The students have created a variety of designs to block and repel birds and are now working to refine their ideas after having discussed them with Mr Cooke.

Mr Pointer said: “I think the girls have really enjoyed working on something that has real world implications. It makes sense that children will enjoy a real-life challenge – where they can experiment and play and come up with solutions – more than a theoretical one. Design and Innovationtechnology is our new DT offering and we are changing the culture of the subject in terms of how pupils experience it, making it future-focused and about innovation in design. We are essentially breathing new life into a subject that nationally has seen low take up at GCSE – despite the country’s great need for people skilled in areas related to design, technology and engineering.

One Year 10 student added: “It’s been such a great experience to come and talk about the problem we have been working on, see how the airport works and understand how bird strike affects operations”.

The students will now return to the classroom to hone their inventions. Watch this space.