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Did you know: grass length could affect your flight at QC Intl. Airport

If airfield grass is cut too short, it attracts more birds leading to a potential bird strike. If it's too long, it attracts bigger animals.

MOLINE, Ill. — If you're thinking about catching a flight, you want to know you're safe. Part of that safety has nothing to do with the plane or tarmac itself, but the area around it.

The airfield grass has to be cut to a very specific length as a safety measure. Mike Hixson, airfield maintenance supervisor at the Quad Cities International Airport, said some experts call it a precise art.

"Inside the fence, we have to maintain a five to eight inch grass height," Hixson said. So you know, anything shorter than five, we get birds that come in and habitat the airfield. If it's taller than eight, we have mammals to come in."

Hixson said the Quad Cities Intl. Airport sees around 40 bird strikes every year. 

"It's [airfield maintenance tasks] more of a priority level, you know, so that's how we deal with it."

A report from Simple Flying, an aviation news website, says precise grass length limits noise pollution, because the grass is better for absorbing aircraft engine noise than concrete.

The report also shows it helps with first impressions, and airports are often ones first impression of a city or country.

Hixson said if the job is not done properly, not just with grass maintenance, a runway could possibly be closed down.

"It's reciprocal — it's like every year we do the same thing the same times of the year," Hixson said.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, about 53% of bird strikes occur from July to October, which is when young birds have recently fledged from nests and fall migration occurs.

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