Bird strikes in the country, which often hold up fliers and even cause close shaves, have nearly doubled over the past four years, revealed data with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), India’s aviation safety regulator.
A bird strike is defined as the collision between a bird and an aircraft, which could be taking-off, in flight or landing.
From 378 bird strikes recorded in 2010, incidents of collisions between birds and planes rose to 719 in 2014, according to data with the DGCA. Until March this year, 97 bird strikes were recorded, revealed the data.
Bird strikes at the city airport, however, did not see a sporadic rise. The airport recorded 22 bird hits last year – marginally up from 19 in 2010.
The damages caused by the bird strike menace also showed in airlines’ balance sheets. According to the DGCA data, from damages worth Rs7.5 crore recorded in 2010, bird strikes bled domestic airlines by more than Rs25 crore last year.
“Several measures have been put in place to combat the menace, which is a significant challenge to flight safety. However, there is a need to adopt more proactive measures,” said Maneesh Kumar, deputy director general, air safety, DGCA.
Kumar was one of the speakers at a national conference on Wildlife Hazard Management in Aviation held in the city on Monday. The discussion that saw wildlife experts and senior officials from the aviation industry was organised by the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) and the Ela Foundation, a Pune-based NGO.
While the Indian airports currently use a host of devices to shoo away birds, there is a need to embrace better technology, said industry experts.
“Investing in aviary radars could be an effective long-term investment in dealing with the issue,” said Dr SM Satheesan, an aircraft bird strike prevention expert.
Reuven Yosef, a professor at the Ben Gurion University in Israel, said satellite coverage should be used for bird mapping.
Airports, however, have been cautious about investing in such technology owing to the high installation costs. The Indian Air Force (IAF) is believed to be the only agency which is in the process of acquiring an aviary radar, said experts.
“We are in the process of acquiring better acoustic equipment to shoo birds away from the airfield,” said Vijay Goankar, wildlife hazard manager, MIAL.
What is a bird strike
A bird strike is defined as the collision between a bird and an aircraft, which could be taking-off, in flight or landing. Bird strikes can be a threat to flight safety.
--> Species involved in bird strikes at Mumbai airport
* Maximum involvement: Black Kite and Blue Rock Pigeon
* Rare involvement: Median Regret, Cattle Egret and Indian Pond Heron