Monday, January 01, 2018

Wildlife strikes at airports rise three times in 7 years; 976 incidents in first 10 months of 2017

The number of wildlife strikes at all Indian airports has increased by nearly three times in the last seven years, and in the first ten months of 2017, more than three strikes a day were reported on an average, according to data obtained by The Indian Express under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. This is despite a slew of measures taken by the government and the aviation regulator to reduce the number of wildlife strike incidents – including proactive measures against illegal slaughterhouses, garbage dumps, regular inspection of areas surrounding airports and stakeholder education.

Records obtained from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) show that 976 wildlife strikes were reported in the first ten months of 2017, compared with 380 wildlife strikes in the year 2010. Notably, as per data sourced from the Airports Authority of India, the number of aircraft movements has also increased during the years. In 2010, 13.69 lakh aircraft movements were recorded, whereas in 2017 up to October, 18.37 lakh movements were recorded. Landing and take-off of an aircraft are considered to be a separate count of movement – which means that one landing and one take-off of the same aircraft on a same flight will be considered as two movements.

While the information pertaining to financial damages borne by airlines due to bird strikes was not available, according to some estimates, in the US, airlines incur up to $1.2 billion in damages every year caused due to bird strikes. In its response to the RTI questionnaire, DGCA has detailed a number steps taken to reduce the number of wildlife strikes at Indian airports. One of these steps is the constitution of AEMCs by the DGCA at every airport with scheduled flights to identify “sources of stray animals/bird attraction at the airport and take necessary steps for bird strike prevention”.

“All the state governments…have been appraised…regarding constitution of Airfield Environment Management Committee (AEMC) headed by the Chief Secretary /Commissioner or head of District, at airports. They have been advised that AEMC should take proactive measures on time bound basis to ensure that no illegal slaughter houses, garbage dumps, etc exist in the vicinity of airports, which is a source of increased bird activity and may lead to wildlife strikes to aircraft during approach/take-off,” the DGCA said in its response.
01/01/18 Pranav Mukul/Indian Express