In Six Months, Local Airlines Lost Over 20 Aircraft Due To 93 Bird Strikes
At least 20 airplanes operated by local airlines have been destroyed by bird strikes at airports across the country in the past few months.
It is reported that the aircraft has been grounded as a result of the bird strikes, which range in severity from minor to severe damages.
Findings earlier indicated that 60 out of the 98 listed aircraft were grounded while the eight active local airlines operated at a combined fleet capacity of 38.77%, pending the availability of foreign exchange earnings to cover maintenance costs.
In the first half of 2022, local aviation reported 93 bird strike incidents, of which 54 happened at Lagos’s busiest airport, Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA).
Azike Edozie, the head of bird/wildlife hazard control at the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), lamented the prevalence of bird strike incidents in the sector and their high costs, which run into the millions of dollars for airlines.
Edozie said: “My record shows that we have had at least 93 bird strike incidents in all our airports between January this year to June. And out of this number, 54 of it happened in Lagos Airport alone, which represents about 70 per cent of the total occurrences.
“We all have to proffer solutions to this menace and I do hope we have a lasting solution to it because everyone, especially the airlines are losing money.”
The figures were accurate, according to the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of an airline.
“We have recorded a lot of them that were brought to the public glare, except where the passengers raised alarms. It often ranges from minor to severe damages to the engine. Very severe ones that significantly damage one or two of the engines should be over 20 given the frequency of the incidents lately,” he said.
At least 30 bird strike incidents were reported in the industry between 2020 and 2021. Half of these incidents occurred at the Lagos Airport, with 19 taking place during takeoff and another 18 during landing.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria made adequate investments and implemented controls to prevent the incidents (FAAN). A year ago, FAAN distributed fresh sets of wildlife management tools to aerodromes all over the country.
Sadiku Rafindadi, Director of Commercial and Business Development FAAN, declared that the deployment would usher in a time of safe flight operations because incidents involving bird strikes would become a thing of the past at the deployment’s flag-off in Lagos.
Adetunji Adetutu, Head of Unit, Bird Control FAAN, stated that FAAN was making every effort to stop the incident’s spread through the purchase of contemporary equipment, which he claimed had significantly lessened its effects.
Adetutu emphasized that some pilots are constantly rushing to leave one airport for another and that this is why some of the pilots have high bird strike rates in the industry. They “violate the instructions of Air Traffic Controllers (ATC).”.
Adetutu observed that 98% of bird strike incidents took place at airports, particularly during takeoff and landing.
“’The final say on what happens to the aircraft lies with the pilots. Until the ATC gives clearance for pilots to depart or land, it is necessary for pilots to listen to their advice.
“Airline operators should have a change of culture on how we carry out our duties. It’s the suitability of the environment that brings birds to the airport environment. We have water, shelter and food around the airports. Runway should be free of activities at take-off and landing.”
He added that most of the birds that cause problem at airports migrate to Africa during a specific season from other continents.