Bird hits flight at Mumbai airport; 2 flights diverted
Two flights were diverted to the Vadodara airport, while another one was asked to go around at the Mumbai airportmumbai Updated: Mar 22, 2018 00:12 IST
Flight operations at the Mumbai airport were delayed on Wednesday morning after a Jet Airways Raipur- Mumbai flight [9W 378] was hit by a bird while landing. The incident took place at 11.12am on the main runway. The operations were already running 15 minutes behind schedule owing to a drill by the air force. The bird hit added another 10 minutes to the delay, owing to which two flights were diverted.Officials said the dead bird was found while vacating N9 taxiway.
As the incident delayed flight operations, two flights were diverted to the Vadodara airport and one was asked to go around at the Mumbai airport. Jet Airways Ahmedabad- Mumbai flight and IndGo Delhi-Mumbai flights were diverted to the Vadodara airport. Meanwhile, GoAir Jaipur- Mumbai flight was asked to go around [abort take off and perform a rotation before landing at the airport].
An airport official said the two flights were diverted to the nearest airport as they were low on fuel and could not be asked to wait for long. At the time of going to press, Jet Airways was yet to make an official statement.
Explaining the air traffic situation at the Mumbai airport, a senior airport official said, “There was an initial delay of 15 minutes, as the air force had occupied two slots. After a bird was found in the operations area, the operator had to clear the runway and conduct an inspection, which added another 10 minutes to the delay. This led to congestion in the air traffic and number of flights lined up to land kept increasing. The two aircraft, which had fuel for less than 20 minutes were diverted to the nearest airport at 12.07pm.”
Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) statistics last year revealed that Delhi and Mumbai reported maximum number of bird hits with 135 and 72 in 2016 respectively. The numbers came down in Mumbai in 2017 after a series of measures were introduced to reduce the incidents. Though the figures for 2017 were not available, numbers were negligible.Airport officials said no bird hit cases were reported in Mumbai since June 2017.
Steps taken to prevent bird hits
The city airport has been taking care to avoid such bird strikes and hence roped an NGO- Ela foundation, to conduct a survey to understand the behaviour of birds in the 10-km radius of the airport (risk zone), and suggest solutions to avoid bird strikes.
Apart from routine initiatives like trimming of trees, in order to discourage birds from nesting and foraging, covering of open storm drains near runway with nets, spraying pesticides to kill insects attracting birds and cutting grass to optimal height according to laid down standards has been adopted by the city airport.
The airport operator, Mumbai International Airport Pvt. Ltd. (MIAL) besides bursting crackers, uses launchers and cartridges that cause an exploding and whistling sound, and vehicle mounted scarecrows during the day. At night, laser bird repellent torches are used to scare birds during poor visibility.
MIAL has purchased an avian-deterrent variety of grass recently to plant near the runway on a trial basis. This avian-deterent Ryegrass has natural fungus in the form of endophyte, which produces chemicals that deter insect growth.