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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

GoAir flight suffers bird hit in Patna

The Airbus A320 Neo aircraft was grounded late Tuesday evening after sensor attached to landing gear number one (rear wheel) was damaged in the bird hit, said people in the know of the incident at the Patna airport

patna Updated: Mar 07, 2019 15:55 IST
Ruchir Kumar
Ruchir Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
A plane lands at the Patna airport
A plane lands at the Patna airport(HT)
         

Around 174 passengers on board a GoAir Delhi-Patna-Delhi flight had a narrow escape when the aircraft suffered a bird hit at the time of landing at the Jai Prakash Narayan International (JPNI) airport here late on Tuesday evening.

The Airbus A320 Neo aircraft was grounded late Tuesday evening after sensor attached to landing gear number one (rear wheel) was damaged in the bird hit, said people in the know of the incident at the Patna airport. The sensor allows a pilot to know in the cockpit whether the landing gear is undocked.

The grounded aircraft was cleared for operation on Wednesday after replacement sensor was flown in from New Delhi by a GoAir flight (G8-135) at 7.10am. The grounded aircraft (G8-218D) left with 134 passengers for Delhi at 10.50am on Wednesday, said airport sources.

Patna airport has witnessed a spurt in incidents of bird of late. Last year, by conservative estimates, 13 incidents of bird hits were reported at the Patna airport.

Data accessed through Right to Information Act by the Hindustan Times revealed that eight bird hits were reported in the first quarter of 2018 itself.

Subsequently, two incidents of bird hits were reported on June 16, when a Spice Jet aircraft (SG-376) with 173 passengers and another IndiGo (6E-508) aircraft with 177 passengers on board suffered bird hits within a span of eight hours.

Again on June 28, an Air India Airbus 320 aircraft with 122 passengers on board from New Delhi suffered a bird hit.  Thereafter, an IndiGo (6E-485) aircraft, with 125 passengers on board had a lucky escape following a bird hit on September 14.

In most of these cases, aircraft had to be grounded overnight and replacement of damaged equipment had to be flown in from respective engineering bases of different airlines, leading to heavy loss of revenue for airlines, besides jeopardising lives.

Since June 2018, at least 771 passenger lives have been put to risk due to bird-hits at Patna airport, where bird menace is common due to unlicensed meat shops, doing business in open, in vicinity of the airport.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) had written to the state government last June about open animal slaughter houses and garbage strewn in the vicinity of airport.

Aviation manual does not allow open slaughter houses and sale of fish within 10 km radius of an airport. However, airport sources said many such vending zones had sprung up in Phulwarisharif area, adjoining the airport.

During the last meeting of the airport environment committee on June 22, 2018, Anand Kishor, former divisional commissioner, Patna, had tasked municipal authorities to initiate steps to shut down illegal slaughter houses as they posed a serious risk to passenger lives and aircraft operation.

Sources said precious little had been done on this front. The airport environment committee, presided by the divisional commissioner, Patna, had also not met after June 22, 2018, said sources in the know of the matter. Air regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), mandates that environment committee meeting should be convened every six months. Interestingly, hundreds of illegal meat shops have surfaced in the state capital against 10, which the Patna Municipal Corporation had granted licence to. A petition on illegal meat shops is also pending in the Patna high court.

Patna airport director Rajender Singh Lahauria said he was “busy in meeting”. He guided this reporter to assistant general manager (air traffic management), Santosh Kumar, who said, “He did not remember the number of bird-hits offhand.”

Patna divisional commissioner, Robert L Chongthu, and PMC commissioner Anupam Kumar Suman could not be contacted for comments. Chongthu’s office staff said the officer does not talk (to reporters) on phone. Suman did not respond to HT’s calls or text message on his cellphone.

(TEXT FOR INFOGRAPHICS)

DANGER IN AIR

(Intro: Bird hits are taking place with disconcerting frequency at Patna airport. One of the main reasons is illegal, open meat shops in vicinity of airport.)

Year                 Number of bird hits at Patna airport

2016-17                 5

2017-18                 8

2018-19                 13

How many lives risked recently?

771 passenger lives have been put to risk due to bird-hits at Patna airport since June 2018.

What does the regulator say and what’s the ground reality?

•Aviation manual does not allow open slaughter houses and sale of fish within 10 km radius of airport

•Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) has granted licence to only 10 meat shops in Patna

•However, in contravention to aviation and PMC rules, hundreds of illegal meat shops have come up in vicinity of airport

•A petition on illegal meat shops is also pending in the Patna high court

•DGCA mandates the airport environment committee should meet every six months. However, its last meeting took place in Patna on June 22, 2018

First Published: Mar 07, 2019 15:55 IST

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