The Mumbai airport’s high-tech equipment such as sound guns, laser torches, bird chasers and trained manpower are not good enough to deter birds from crashing into your flight.
Last year, the airport recorded 19 bird hits, which is a minor improvement from 2008 when bird hits disrupted 20 flights.
The airport operator blamed the filthy surroundings of the airport for the persistent problem.
“Our measures are limited to the airport boundary. But the hutments, butcher shops and waste bins keep drawing birds close to the airfield,” said a Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) spokesperson. He added, “We will continue to work with the civic body to reduce the menace but it takes time to eliminate such problems.”
Last week, the Bombay high court heard a petition filed by Goregaon resident Datta Mane, who stated that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has permitted more than 100 licensed meat shops to run within 10 km radius from the airport periphery.
That is a violation of the Aircraft Act, the global policy for air travel formed by the International Civil Aviation Organisations (ICAO) Regulation. The Act prohibits slaughtering of animals and disposing of filth within a radius of 10 km from area of flight movement.
Apart from endangering passenger safety bird hits caused airline losses worth Rs7 crore in 2009, added the petition.
Airlines recover these losses from passengers, said aviation experts.
“Airlines bear a direct cost of repairing an aircraft damaged by an bird hit. If the damage is serious and results in grounding the aircraft they also lose revenue depending on the number of passenger seats it accommodates. Both these revenue losses are passed on to the passenger,” said Amber Dubey, director, aerospace and defence, KPMG.
Grounding of aircraft damaged by bird hits reduces the supply of passenger seats leading to increase in airfares. For instance, an aircraft with a passenger capacity of 200 seats is usually used for four flights a day. If the aircraft is benched for a day, passengers travelling on that particular day will have 800 seats less.