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Bird-hit blame on garbage pile-up

- Glare on meat shops in airport vicinity
Risky affair

Danger continues to lurk around Patna airport, a day after 162 people of an IndiGo flight had a close shave following a bird hit seconds before take-off.

Garbage disposal on the periphery of the airport, which attracts birds and raises the chances of bird-hit incidents, seems to be nobody’s responsibility.

Though the lives of passengers and crew on IndiGo flight 6E 191 were saved on Saturday afternoon after the captain applied the emergency brakes, the larger issue of removal of objects that attract birds and scavengers from around Patna airport still remains unaddressed.

According to sources, the bird-hit incidents mainly occur because of the improper disposal of waste by meat and chicken shops in the localities near the airport, improper disposal of waste food from functions held at Patna Golf Club and unauthorised slums that have come up behind the IAS association building and the office of the deputy director of Airports Authority of India (AAI), Patna.

“Garbage accumulation and meat shops are the main factors that attract birds around the airport. It is high time that an action plan should be drawn up and effectively implemented to get rid of this serious problem,” said Atul Singh, the executive director at the Delhi-based Centre for Aviation, Policy, Safety and Research.

The issue of safeguarding the city airport from issues such as bird-hit incidents is to be largely looked after the Airport Environment Management Committee (AEMC). The divisional commissioner of Patna is the ex officio chairman of the committee, Patna district magistrate and Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) and AAI are its members. The committee is supposed to hold monthly meetings and joint inspection around the airport and the corresponding status report on garbage and meat shop removal works is to be furnished on a monthly basis.

Though the present divisional commissioner, N. Vijayalakshmi, was unavailable for a comment on the issue, a source claimed that the meetings and inspections are not held monthly.

Patna airport has six bird chasers to keep out the winged creatures. Shanties, stagnant waterbodies and stray cattle can be seen behind the office of deputy director of AAI, Patna, and the IAS association building. Similarly, widespread heaps of garbage is a common sight along the Howrah-Delhi railway line located south of the airport.

Ideally, the number of bird hit cases should be zero but keeping the ground realities in mind, the Union ministry of civil aviation has recently issued a guideline according to which for every 10,000 movement of aircraft, the tolerable limit of bird-hit cases is 0.48 (less than 1). This guideline says that for movement of every 20,000 aircraft, the tolerable limit for bird-hit cases should be one.

The Airbus A320 on Saturday had picked up a speed of around 150 to 170 nautical miles (around 700kmph) on the runway when the bird hit occurred.

Flight expert Singh said: “The front wheel of the aircraft must have lifted or it might have been about to lift and the nose must have been in an upward position. As per standard operating procedure, pilots are not recommended to abort take-off in such conditions. The pilot should have made the take-off, took the flight in the air, made a go-around and landed the flight back to the airport with continuous communication with the air traffic controller.”