Heathrow Airport: Bird-watcher saves thousands of passengers’ lives every day – but how?


Airport safety is paramount, especially at the UK’s biggest and busiest airplane transport terminal, London Heathrow. The hub welcomes a whopping 80 million passengers per year, with most journeys and experiences running without a hitch. Yet one particular employee, who has been dubbed “Airside Ian”, has a key role in security and safety – by spending his day watching birds. ITV show Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport detailed his surprise job on Tuesday’s episode, leaving many stunned.

Armed with a pair of binoculars, a bin bag and some convincing bird call sounds, he takes to the runway in his vehicle.

The show’s narrator, Julie Walters, explains how in bad weather “the threat of a bird hitting the plane is likely to increase”.

Ia,n therefore, is tasked to spot the birds and disperse them, before they can come anywhere near the planes or their huge engines and cause damage.

This means he potentially saves thousands of lives daily by preventing any bird-related incidents.

Later in the episode, he spotted a particularly problematic flock of crows and starlings.

He told the main airport control room of his spot and said: “Just to advise you: grass area nine at alpha four, there’s three crows and some starlings.

“I am going to attempt to disperse them.”

The senior airfield officer’s main foe is the crow, and he added: “It’s a species that outsmarts you rather than …

“I mean they’re very clever, without a doubt.”

After beeping his horn to try to scare them, he was forced into more drastic measures.

Ian grabbed a large bin liner and screwed it up.

He told the camera how the crows would spot something large and black and be scared of it, when accompanied by his birdsong, and promptly fly away.

His bizarre actions, which saw him scooting out of his vehicle and towards the flock, paid off as they flew away and disaster was averted.

Express.co.uk meanwhile, has flagged an equally worrying circumstance at the airport, with impending strikes and potential food shortages this weekend.

Transporters of meals to the UK’s busiest airport, Alpha LSG, will walk out, with suggestions this could leave the hub void of grub.

Workers at Alpha LSG, the company which delivers plane food to a number of airlines at the UK’s biggest airport, will walk out from May 22 to May 26.

This will mean they stage their action over May 25 and 26 – the heart of the second May Bank Holiday weekend.

Alpha LSG supplies in-flight meals to airlines including American Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, and Qatar Airways, all of whom will be affected.

This has prompted fears there will be no food on board – and, no matter what views are on plane food – during a long haul trip in particular, passengers could well be worried.

The company’s employees are staging the lengthy industrial actual due to what union Unite terms a “punishing new shift pattern” on its drivers.

They said: “The new rosters are taking a heavy toll on the workers’ well-being.

“The company are treating workers with contempt by trying to force them to work an extra 12 weekends a year.

“It’s an attack on family life and the drivers are fighting back.


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