Sunday, June 27, 2021

Termites take off, bird-hits on planes spike

Ahmedabad: Three bird-hits were reported at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International (SVPI) airport over the past ten days, just when the monsoon set in. Researchers revealed that the majority of the bird-hits during the monsoon occur because flying termites become active in the season. They thrive in the grass on the SVPI airport campus. Sources also said that for a month, airport authorities have been clearing sackfuls of bitter apple, a wild plant that has been growing amid the grass on the airport campus.

On Friday morning, a Bengaluru-bound Indigo airlines flight suffered a bird-hit at around 9am, which caused severe damage to its engine. “It could not be ascertained which bird hit the aircraft but it was sure a sizable one which wrecked the engine blade,” a source said. “The incident occurred when the aircraft was accelerating for takeoff. All the 220 passengers were safely deplaned and flown to Bengaluru on another aircraft.”

Three of the five bird-hits in 2021 were reported after the monsoon began. A researcher who has been involved in bird and animal sighting studies at the city airport said: “Kites, which are birds of prey, are responsible for 80% of the bird-hits at the city airport.” The researcher went on to say: “They also prey on flying termites.”

The researcher said that regular cutting of grass and spraying of insecticides are necessary to curb the termite problem.

Among other birds which often strike aircraft at the city airport are red-wattled lapwings and pigeons. Sources said that a few years ago, red-wattled lapwings were found nesting at the city airport.

27/06/21 Niyati Parikh & Himanshu Kaushik/Times of India

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