The bird menace at the Delhi airport is posing a big problem for airlines, as there have been several instances of aircrafts being forced to abort landing at the last minute due to excessive bird activity on the runway. "Apart from the inconvenience and scare that it causes to passengers, the 'go around' for a second landing takes a good 15 to 20 minutes to complete and burns up around 1,000 litres of additional jet fuel," a senior pilot of a commercial airline told Mail Today.
Sometimes there are several aircrafts in the queue for landing and this leads to a cascading delay for other flights, with the accompanying wastage of fuel getting multiplied.
With international prices of crude shooting up to $90 a barrel and the oil companies jacking up fuel prices, the extra fuel burn, which costs around Rs 50,000, is something that commercial airlines can ill-afford at a time when they are struggling to break even. These birds, in and around the vicinity of the airport, are also a major hazard due to the potential danger of getting sucked into the engine of an aircraft and causing a 'blow out'.
|It is a fowl play|
- 'Go around' for a second landing takes 15-20 minutes to complete
- Birds can get sucked into the engine of an aircraft and cause a 'blow out'
- Sometimes several planes have to wait for landing leading to cascading delay
- Proximity to Dwarka township results in higher bird activity in the area
- Areas around the airport have to be kept free of garbage & meat shops
- Birds get food in areas of human habitation and thus flock to these regions
- About 25 zone guns are placed along the runway
- Installed reflective tapes & and scare crow devices
- Authorities have deployed 50 bird chasers
- Regular grass cutting and pesticide spraying
Rs 50,000 is the additional cost of the extra jet fuel that is burnt as airplanes are forced to 'go around' for second landing
According to senior pilots, while periodic meetings do take place to discuss the bird menace, still more needs to be done to address the problem. With the expansion of the airport and its proximity to the burgeoning Dwarka township, bird activity in the region has gone up.
Experts point out that birds get food in areas of human habitation and after having had their fill look for an open place to rest. This makes them flock to the runway area, which is a vast open expanse.
Other birds of prey, such as kites and eagles, look around for insects and worms, which can be found in the grass around the runway. These birds have an extremely sharp vision and can sight their tiny prey from high up in the air. They then swoop down on their target quite oblivious of approaching aircrafts.
The bird menace goes up during the monsoon months as there are more insects and worms during the rainy season. A former Airports Authority of India (AAI) official said the residential colonies in the proximity of the airport have to be kept free of garbage dumps, slaughter houses and meat shops, which tend to attract birds.
"The birds also get used to various methods such as particular sounds and visual signs used to scare them as they realise after a while that they are not actually harmed by them. These methods, therefore, need to be constantly changed," he explained.
The management of the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) told Mail Today that bird movement occurs at airports across the world. However, during the monsoon season it increases. At times, 'go around' happens if dead birds are spotted on the runway by the pilot.
"At IGIA, several steps have been taken to control the bird menace, which include positioning of 25 zone guns along the runway, deployment of 50 bird chasers, installation of reflective tapes, bursting of crackers, scare crow devices on jeeps, regular grass cutting and pesticide spraying," the management stated.
An Airfield Environment Management Committee (AEMC) headed by the environment secretary, government of NCTDelhi, also takes up initiatives such as garbage removal, waste management, curbing slaughter houses and meat shops. "As per international standards, the 'desired bird strike rate' is 1 per 10,000 aircraft movements and at Delhi it is much below that rate," the IGIA statement added.
Courtesy: Mail Today