Airports deploy new wildlife control measures over multiple bird strikes
Following perennial bird strikes and losses to airlines’ operations, the airport authority has deployed new sets of wildlife management equipment to aerodromes nationwide.
The new equipment, on the recommendation of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), aims to enhance flight safety for both local and international operators.
Spokesperson of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Henrietta Yakubu, confirmed that the equipment was being deployed to other airports following the rollout in Lagos on Monday.
Indeed, cases of bird strikes both during aircraft take-off and landing, have been frequent lately. Last month, an Aero Contractors’ Boeing 737-500 aircraft had a bird strike in Port Harcourt shortly after take-off. The aircraft with 91 passengers onboard made an air return in accordance with standard operating practice.
Barely a day after, another Boeing 737 aircraft operated by Max Air had a similar incident at Kano. The aircraft with 139 souls onboard, including the Emir of Kano, also made an air return back to base safely.
Earlier, a British Airways Boeing 777-300ER experienced a bird strike while landing in Lagos. The multiple impacts led to issues such as hydraulic leak, causing smoke to emanate from the aircraft’s landing gear. However, the response from emergency services was said to have been rather slow.
Findings indicated that in the last two years, there had been at least 30 reported cases of bird strike in the industry. About 19 were on take-off and another 18 on landing, and half of these incidents took place at the Lagos Airport.
Though bird strikes are global phenomena and rarely fatal, they cause excess damages forcing aviation authorities to invest in control measures.
Managing Director of FAAN, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, noted that the new equipment is one of the best around, as the Authority procured them on the recommendation of ICAO.
Yadudu, who was represented by the Director of Commercial and Business Development, Sadiku Rafindadi, said the deployment would usher in an era of safe flight operations, as incidents relating to bird strikes will now be a thing of the past.
Director of Airport Operations, Capt. Muktar Muye, noted that the equipment is a complete package that also includes the recommended storage facility, patrol vehicle and trained personnel in line with ICAO’s standards and recommended practices.
Some of the components include, three different models of bird scaring gas canons, day-boxes for carrying pyrotechnics during operations for safety, 15,000 rounds of 12G (heavy caliber bird scaring pyrotechnics), hi-tech bird laser, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for staff dealing with wildlife, Purpose built Type IV explosive storage magazine, and Brand new Hilux jeep for Runway wildlife patrol.
Not peculiar to Nigeria, there are over 13,000 bird strikes yearly in the U.S. alone. However, the number of major accidents involving civil aircraft is quite low and it has been estimated that there is only about one accident resulting in human death in one billion flying hours. The majority of bird strikes (65 per cent) cause little damage to the aircraft; however, the collision is usually fatal to birds involved.
The aviation industry spends a minimum of $1.2 billion per year on bird strike damage and delays, estimates John Allan, head of the national wildlife management center, which is part of the UK Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency.
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