Friday, 25th April 2014

Hunters hired to prevent bird collisions at airport

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Birds are increasingly becoming a security threat for the only international airport in Nepal. With the number of bird-plane collisions on the rise, five hunters from the Wildlife Department have been hired to prevent bird strikes.

In 2013, the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu has witnessed 22 bird strikes, according to Nepal's aviation authority.

Considering the EU recent decision to add Nepal's airlines to its safety blacklist, the Civil Aviation Office is reinforcing security measures curbing the hazard that birds pose. A group of hunters now constantly monitor wildlife movement in the vicinity of the airport.

The co-existence of birds and airplanes is burdened with extreme risk. In the case of a collision with an aircraft, a single bird has the potential to cause severe damage, leading in some cases to the loss of the aircraft, its crew and passengers.

"We monitor the area 24 hours a day, our work consists in scaring birds away from airfields. We know that birds can potentially cause the loss of many lives," Aitaram Tamang, hunter at the Tribhuvan International Airport, told Xinhua.

By firing into the air, hunters prevent birds from smashing a pilot's windshield or being sucked into engines. Yet, the problem could be more difficult to solve.

"The sky is not our territory; it was not created for people, it was created for birds. This is a fight between nature and science but we are committed to make skies safer for all those who fly," Deo Chandra Lal Karn, Director of the Airport Operation Department of the Tribhuvan International Airport Civil Aviation Office told Xinhua.

Bird strike risk demands serious consideration by the Nepalese aviation industry, particularly in view of the increase in aircraft numbers and activities.

Studies have shown that this deadly phenomenon emerged as a major threat to flight operation because of rapid urbanization and solid waste dumping in rivers near Kathmandu's airport.

The increased movement of birds, mainly crows, black kites, falcons and eagles, often results in some serious security threats.

Last year, a bird strike turned lethal in Kathmandu. An aircraft of Sita Air crashed minutes after taking off from the Tribhuvan International Airport following a bird strike that caused the failure of an engine. The aircraft was headed to Lukla, the entry point for the Mount Everest region and the accident led to the death of all 19 people on board. Seven of the victims were Nepali, seven British and five Chinese.



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