The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has confirmed that Nigeria records high rate of bird strikes which most often leads to airlines spending huge resources to replace engines damaged by such incidents or other parts of the aircraft that hit the birds.
Airlines also lose revenue running into millions of naira when such damaged aircraft are grounded, waiting to be repaired and taken into the air again, which could take weeks.
Speaking at a workshop organised by the Search and Rescue Mission of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) yesterday in Lagos, the Head Bird/Wildlife Hazard Control, NCAA, Mr. Azike Edozie, decried the high incidents arising from bird strike in the industry.
He said no fewer than 93 bird strike incidents have occurred across Nigerian airports in the first half of 2022.
Out of the number, 54 of such bird strike incidents happened at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos alone, he said.
Edozie however said the responsibility of keeping the airspace safe from birds’ incidents lied with all stakeholders in the industry, including airline operators, security agencies and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
He expressed hope that the respective agencies would find a lasting solution to the menace soon, saying airlines are losing millions of dollars to the incident annually.
”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 a solution to this menace and I do hope we have a lasting solution to it because everyone, especially the airlines are losing money,” he explained.
Also, the Head of Unit, Bird Control, FAAN, Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, Mr. Adetunji Adetutu stated in his presentation that no airline was immune from the incident of bird strikes.
Adetutu explained that FAAN as the airport landlord was doing its best to curb the spread of the incident through the procurement of modern equipment, which he said had gone a long way to reduce its impacts.
He also blamed some of the pilots for the high bird strike rates in the industry, stressing that some of them are always in hurry to depart an airport for the other and violate the instructions of Air Traffic Controllers (ATC)
He insisted that it was necessary for the airlines and their pilots to also have a change of culture by adhering to the instructions issued by ATCs.
According to him, 98 per cent of bird strike incidents occurred at the airports, especially when taking off and landing.
He said, “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 also stated that most of the birds that cause havoc at the airports migrate from other continents to Africa at a particular time of the season.
Speaking also, the Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator, NAMA, Mr. Olanrewaju Iwalaye, said it was necessary for all stakeholders to curb the actinides of bird strike incidents at the airport with the procurement of advanced equipment.
Iwalaye, however, observed that FAAN had in recent times improved with the procured of equipment to reduce the incident.
He added that same programme was simultaneously going on in all the major airports across the country, including the Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Omagwa, Aminu Kano International Airport (AKIA), Kano and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Port Harcourt.