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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Chennai Airport seeking help of Anna University wildlife expert to study pattern of migratory birds

C SHIVAKUMAR @ CHENNAI:
After two back-to-back bird hits at Chennai Airport in the last two days, Airport Authority of India is now planning to hire a consultant from Anna University to study presence of habitual, migratory and nocturnal birds in and around the 10km radius of the airport as well as the height of 5,000 feet to ensure safety of aircraft.

During the last two days, two aircraft of Indigo airlines suffered bird hits at an altitude of above 5,000 feet. On Thursday, a Doha bound Indigo flight which departed at 1.47 am flew into a flock of birds and it was forced to land in Chennai airport again. Similarly, on Wednesday evening, Chennai-Ahmedabad flight suffered a bird hit at an altitude of 5,500 feet and the flight was forced to land in Chennai.

Interestingly, the move to study and provide measures for bird and animal hazard control management in operational area and surroundings up to 10km radius was initiated a couple of years ago. However, the consultant Vanamitra could not take up the contract as difference of opinion cropped up between Vanamitra and Airport Authority of India and the project could not be taken up.

It is learnt that airport Authority of India is planning to rope in former director of Zoological survey of India, who is currently with Anna University, to help undertake the study.

Airport Director G Chandramouli said that the airport has enough infrastructure to stop bird menace in and around airport but it could do little at an altitude above 2,500 feet to 5,000 feet. He blamed the bird menace to the civic problem where in sewer network from Pallavaram and Polichur flow through the airport. IIT has submitted a report of re-routing the sewers. But the dirty water from the sewers and the canal tend to attract the birds.

Interestingly, besides the two high altitude bird hits, Chennai Airport has reported three to four suspected bird hits. As per the norms of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) norms, bird strikes are required to be reported by the countries so that they can be collected and forwarded to ICAO for inclusion in ICAO Birds Strike Information System (IBIS) database.

Chandramouli said that they have deployed zone guns (a gas that gives bursting sound to keep birds away from the flying zone) and bird scaring equipment. Plans are on to procure additional guns. “We also burst crackers to keep the birds away,” he said.

“We are also grading the entire airport before March 2018 so that the grass level is limited and prevent rodents,” said Chandramouli.

Meanwhile, talks are also underway with the state government over re-routing of sewers identified by a study conducted by IIT Madras.

Factfile;
1. Chennai Airport experienced two back to back high altitude bird hits this week.
2. Three suspected bird hits have been reported earlier.
3. Bird strike results in expensive repairs to aircraft, engines and results in losses or delays
4. As per ICAO provisions, bird strike reports have to be forwarded to Bird Strike Information database of ICAO
5. Airport Authority to take the services of former Zoological Survey of India director to conduct the study on bird/ animal aircraft strike hazard management
6. Chennai Airport to procure additional zone guns to keep away birds

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