Sixty passengers on board an Alliance Air flight from Dimapur had a narrow escape after the aircraft was hit by a bird while landing at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport on Thursday afternoon. The pilot, however, managed to land the plane without major trouble at about 1.30 pm.
Airport officials who inspected the aircraft after it had landed said the bird had hit the left engine, damaging it in the process. The pilot had reported the incident to the air safety control, stating that a bird had suddenly appeared in front of the aircraft and hit the left engine.
Immediately after the passengers left the craft for the baggage area of the lounge, flight engineers rushed to the plane and inspected it thoroughly, but could not find the bird inside the engine. “It hit the left engine and dropped off somewhere. Usually, they get sucked into the engine,” said a senior official. The aircraft was sent for a thorough check and repairs right away. Officials said a major disaster had been averted.
On April 30, Indian Airlines had to get an aircraft replaced for its passengers bound for Bangkok, after a bird hit the designated flight after take-off in Bangalore. The pilot reported the incident at the city airport on landing and the authorities here had a harrowing time in getting a replacement ready.
Thursday’s is this year’s first major bird-hit and comes at a time when the Airports Authority of India is clamouring that the state government immediately remove or close down the illegal fish markets flourishing in and around the airport.
From Narayanpur to Kaikhali and Jessore Road, illegal markets have sprung up, attracting a large number of birds. These birds — crows, kites and vultures — stray into the airport perimeter, creating complications for pilots, who report dozens of near-misses with birds while landing and taking off.
Airport director J. Kongari recently held talks with North 24-Parganas district magistrate H.K. Dwivedi and the local municipalities on closing down these markets. The district authorities did shut down some of them within a radius of two km from the airport, but within a few days, the fish stalls were back in business. The Airline Operators Committee, too, has voiced concern over the markets.