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Bird-hits down to three at city airport

Incidents of bird-hits have come down drastically at the Mumbai airport this monsoon in the last three months. Soubhik Mitra reports.

india Updated: Aug 02, 2009, 19:14 IST
Soubhik Mitra
Soubhik Mitra
Hindustan Times

Incidents of bird-hits have come down drastically at the Mumbai airport this monsoon in the last three months.

Only three flights were delayed due to bird-hits at the country’s busiest airport between May and July as compared to 13 flights in the same period last year.

Surrounded by 250 butcher shops and several thousands hutments, the airport attract birds in large numbers which may lead to several hours of delay in flights or result in a major disaster.

“The most important objective is to maintain the grassland habitat around the runway in such a way so that birds are not encouraged to feed in areas close to the runways and taxiways,” said the spokesperson for Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL).

Reduction in the number of bird hits has been made possible because of the steps taken by the airport’s monsoon wildlife management team — a special group set up to tackle bird menace at the airport.

An array of new bird shooing devices has helped bird chasers, who earlier had to do the job using firecrackers and sticks, in their task. The bird chasers deployed on both sides of the runway now have high-decibel German-made guns and laser bird-repellant torches that are very effective in moving birds away during a heavy downpour.

Around 10 more people have been deployed to the normal strength of 30 bird chasers for the monsoon as the green grass-cover on the airfield attracts more birds.

The apron control that allots parking bays to flights landing in the city too has been armed with air rifles and air guns. Next month, two more special bird-combat devices called the bird whistler and bird bomb would be added to the repertoire.

While studying bird movement around the airfield, the airport staffers found that commonly found birds fly between 50 and 1,500 ft — roughly the height at which a flight takes off or approaches to runway to land. The most commonly found birds were identified as pariah kite, cattle egret, crow and pigeon.

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