Today’s invention represents another go at solving the bird-strike problem for passenger aircraft.
Each airliner would be equipped with a small UAV, capable of flying at speeds marginally greater than cruising velocity at medium and low altitudes. This craft could be highly streamlined, impact resistant and able to refuel itself periodically from the main aircraft.
The UAV would be released in flight and controlled by the aircraft’s steering system so as to fly directly ahead of it in areas with a moderate to high birdstrike probability.
A sufficient distance would be maintained between drone and aircraft so that any UAV malfunction could not damage the main plane.
The UAV would carry optical and perhaps acoustic sensors, in order to detect in advance the arrival of any errant avians. The two would fly close enough so that if the scout vehicle was actually hit (eg from the left), the aircraft crew would still have enough time to respond to advice to bear sharply right.
It might even be necessary to allow the drone to detonate its own small fuel load if it sensed that the flock was too big to be steered around.