ESA title


  • ACTIVITYFeasibility Study
  • STATUSCompleted
  • THEMATIC AREATransport & Logistics

Objectives of the service

FlySafe activities aim at demonstrating the viability of a combined space and non-space system to deliver real time and forecast of bird migration information.

Users and their needs

FlySafe users are the Air Forces of The Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany.

Service/ system concept

Two main demonstration services are provided by FlySafe:

  • Hourly updated  visualization of bird migration densities covering geographic areas of Belgium and the Netherlands
  • Hourly updated 3 days forecasts for Belgium and the Netherlands (see

Space Added Value

Space technologies play an important role for the characterization of global movements of birds and, indirectly for provision of environmental parameters that indicate initiation of migration, stopover behavior, shortage of foods and other parameters that together are used to model and predict bird migration. Models use earth observation data on landscape, land use, environmental and weather conditions together with global bird migration routes provided by navigation based systems and combine those data sources with in situ observation of bird migration to generate quasi real time and forecast of bird migration.

Current Status

FlySafe activities have been completed. 

The following results have been achieved by FlySafe: 

  • By end 2007, a common set of requirements were jointly proposed by the air forces involved in the FlySafe project;
  • The system was designed accordingly and the resulting FlySafe system concept was positively evaluated by ESA and partner air forces.
  • The development and demonstration activities of the FlySafe proof of concept were successfully completed in 2009, showing the capability of such a system to mitigate the risk of bird strike in military aviation in particular. Following this successful demonstration phase, Dutch and Belgian air forces proposed the creation of an operational service, to be hosted by the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI).
  • Based on their proposal, the FlySafe operational service has been established and is being operated by KNMI. The FlySafe service operational platform provides forecast and nowcast (quasi real time information) services on bird presence in northwest Europe, accessible at
  • The Belgian and Dutch air forces have acknowledged the effectiveness of FlySafe, which has significantly reduced the operational impact of bird strike prevention activities. Moreover, FlySafe contributed to improving international cooperation among the EU air forces on the bird strike issue. 

A number of spin-off activities have also been initiated thanks to FlySafe. These include:

  • Facilitating Robin Radar Systems start-up: through the involvement of the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), FlySafe supported the development and validation of:
    • Robin 4++, a system to detect bird migration using military long range surveillance radars;
    • Robin lite, a specialised small range radar to detect bird movements at and near airports. During FlySafe, the Robin lite system was operated and successfully tested at the military airbase in Woensdrecht, in The Netherlands.

In the summer of 2010, following the successful demonstration of Robin technology as part of FlySafe system, a new company, Robin Radar Systems, was spun-out of TNO. Robin Radar Systems provides bird strike risk reduction services based on the exploitation of avian radars (military and small range) which were enhanced, validated and promoted by ESA through the FlySafe project. 

Since 2010, Robin Radar Systems has grown from 4 to 25 employees and has won contracts in the Netherlands, Belgium, UK, Turkey, Estonia, Bulgaria, Poland, France, Norway and Spain. It is currently expanding its business towards the Middle East.

Recently, the Minister of Dutch Economic affairs labelled Robin as one of 100 most innovative SME companies in the Netherlands.

Robin’s success has been recognised by external investors, who have gone on to become shareholders. In particular, Inkef Capital (ABP) and the Mainport Innovation Fund (KLM, Schiphol Airport a.o.) are providing substantial funding in support of the company’s international roll-out and its ambitious innovation agenda. 

  • FlySafe-2 project: this project was initiated by Royal Netherlands Air Force in 2011 and wholly funded by the Dutch Defence Research & Development Agency. The main objectives are to refine the FlySafe bird migration prediction models and explore the possibility of extending the geographic coverage of FlySafe services through co-operation with new European weather institutes and other air forces and users. 

The service capabilities demonstrated through FlySafe could pave the way for new developments to serve wider geographic areas and user communities. Many different communities need more comprehensive, easily accessible and understandable information about bird distribution and movements at different scales and their interaction with the environment.


Status Date

Updated: 18 March 2014