NORFOLK, Va. — In an effort to reduce the number of Avian-Related Engine Failures (AREFs) at taxpayer expense, Naval Station Norfolk issued new orders to all F/A-18 squadrons that geese will have the right of way when crossing paths in the air.
The reminder comes as a part of the Navy’s goose safety training protocol, known as Operation Feather Touch, which the Navy implemented in 2018 to comply with new OSHA, EPA, and SPCA regulations. This year’s theme, “Give a Goose a Brake,” aims to reduce F/A-18 Super Hornet-related AREFs by one-third in 2020.
“In 2019, we had 47 jet engines destroyed by wayward geese,” Rear Admiral Jim Blake, who leads the Navy’s Birdstrike Reduction Program, explained in a statement. “A single General Electric F414 afterburning turbofan engine costs approximately $4 million to replace, and all it takes to put its lights out is one fully grown, 14 pound Canada goose through the intake ramp. This program will save taxpayers millions of dollars per year, and hopefully get those goddamn whining hippies off my back.”
Blake hopes the program will lower goose strikes down to a modest 16 in 2020.
“The geese are our friendly neighbors, and we want to maintain friendly relationships with whoever is in our backyard,” Blake continued. “Well, not friendly friendly. They’re actually pretty ornery assholes, in fact. But I have my orders.”
The two part training program features a series of videos narrated by Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger of “Miracle on the Hudson” fame, followed by advanced simulator and field training. The evolutions include evasive maneuvering, predicting and plotting geese flight patterns, and running over frozen chickens with a riding lawnmower to recognize the impact of a mid-air goose collision.
When asked about the effectiveness of this training, Admiral Blake responded saying, “We take our goose-safety training very seriously here in the Navy. Unfortunately, we burned the equivalent of the entire GDP of Thailand on the F-35 project, so money is a little tight for this new program at the moment.”
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