SAN JOSE -- The San Jose City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to allow airport staff to shoot blank and live ammunition at birds on the airfield that can pose a hazard to approaching and departing aircraft.
The council's vote had been scheduled for approval last week but was postponed a week due to concerns raised by council members and some residents. It changes a city ordinance that previously allowed only police to discharge firearms at the airport.
Birds can cause serious damage when they collide with jets, particularly if they get sucked into the engine intakes where they can knock out power during critical takeoffs and landings. City officials noted the most dramatic recent example: On Jan. 15, 2009, when pilot Chesley Sullenberger landed a bird-stricken US Airways jet in the Hudson River.
Since 2009 there have been 180 reported bird strikes at the San Jose airport including one in June that caused $50,000 in damage to the engine of a landing Southwest Airlines 737.
Councilman Ash Kalra said he understood the use of firearms would be strictly monitored but wanted it documented "to see if it's working." Airport Director Bill Sherry said that already is in the plan.
Contact John Woolfolk at 408-975-9346. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/johnwoolfolk1.