June 8, 1988: The Eyes of Japan Are Upon You

Japanese carrier All-Nippon Airways announced in 1988 that painting eyeballs on its jets cut bird collisions by 20 percent. The menacing-looking eyes painted on the engine intakes of its jet aircraft frightened away the birds, preventing them from throwing themselves at the plane during takeoff.

This conclusion was drawn after a controlled experiment in which the Japanese domestic

Another misstep: passengers in the rear compartment complained about congestion and lousy meals, passengers up front (ten to a wing) were annoyed by collisions with birds
Another misstep: passengers in the rear compartment complained about congestion and lousy meals, passengers up front (ten to a wing) were annoyed by collisions with birds

airline painted the evil eyes on 26 of its Boeing 747’s and 767’s, leaving the rest of its fleet eyeless. After a year, an average of only one bird had hit each of the eyeballed engines while nine birds struck each unpainted engine.

The airline estimated that the reduction in bird strikes during the testing period reduced the damage to its aircraft from $910,000 to $720,000. Consequently, All-Nippon said it would paint eyes on all its large-body aircraft.

Continuing its program of thinking outside the fuselage to reduce costs, the company in 2009 planned to ask all passengers to use restrooms before boarding. During a four-week test, agents at the gates suggested that passengers use terminal restrooms to relieve themselves before getting on the plane. All-Nippon’s bathroom experiment was a way to cut fuel consumption, thereby resulting in decreased carbon emissions and lower costs. Travelers, however, did not warm up to the plan, finding it embarrassing and offensive. The plan went the way of the eyeballs. Oh yeah, the eyeballs were removed from planes in 2000 because – well, the company didn’t say why – just eye strain, perhaps.

My fear of flying starts as soon as I buckle myself in and then the guy up front mumbles a few unintelligible words then before I know it I’m thrust into the back of my seat by acceleration that seems way too fast and the rest of the trip is an endless nightmare of turbulence, of near misses. And then the cabbie drops me off at the airport. — Dennis Miller

 

Man is flying too fast for a world that is round. Soon he will catch up with himself in a great rear end collision.James Thurber

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