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Birds pose threat to aviation safety at Coimbatore Airport

V.S. Palaniappan and
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Additional bird chasers deployed along runway

An aircraft approaching the runway for landing at the Coimbatore Airport.— Photo: K. Ananthan
An aircraft approaching the runway for landing at the Coimbatore Airport.— Photo: K. Ananthan

With nearly five incidents of bird hit in the last one month and two during the last one week, threat of bird hit seems to be looming large for flights landing and taking off at Coimbatore Airport. An international flight scheduled for mid-night departure was delayed for nearly three-and-a-half hours during this week, while another domestic aircraft was also delayed because of bird hit. Unusually, there was a bird hit menace at night in the recent times, sources in airport said.

Airports Authority of India (AAI) officials at the Coimbatore Airport have been managing the situation by firing more crackers and with extensive use of gas powered Zone guns (that emits sound at frequent intervals) to scare birds, says D. Paul Manickam, Coimbatore Airport Director.

He added that additional bird chasers have been deployed along the runway to chase the birds when the flights land and take off. The measures are closely co-ordinated with the Air Traffic Control, officials said. In addition, all agencies concerned have been requested for sterilising the areas in the periphery of the airport.

Peripheral areas of the airport, especially in SIHS Colony, Kalapatti and Brindavan Nagar there are a number of stalls vending meat. Unscientific disposal of the meat waste and poultry birds have been drawing a large number of birds. In addition, the civic body should immediately arrange for proper removal of garbage along the airport perimeter, AAI officials said. Garbage lying un-cleared also attracted a large number of ground flying birds.

As in the case of any airport, the threat from birds was more during October to December. Though there are not much of high-flying birds, the risk was more from ground flying birds.

Normally, flights are operated at an altitude of nearly 10,000 ft height in the case of domestic sector and at 10,000 to 15,000 ft in the case of international aircraft. In addition, long haul flights are assigned higher altitude while short haul flights were not operated at higher altitudes. Irrespective of the altitude, long or short hauls, aircraft always face the risk of bird hit while landing and take off from the ground flying birds. AAI officials have identified some of the birds as kites, vultures, peacocks and sometimes sparrows. In order to identify the remaining ground flying birds in the area, officials are approaching Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History. This is to identify the attraction for birds in the area and to device measures to scare them away.

Officials also added that Airport Environment Management Committee led by the Collector had discussed the issue in its earlier meeting. AAI has written to the health officials, civic body and district administration.

When contacted, Corporation sources said that the civic body has ensured that there were no unauthorised meat stalls or abattoirs in the airport’s vicinity. The civic body has put in place a mechanism to collect meat waste right at the door steps of the shop owners.


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