Passengers of a Bhubaneswar-bound Vistara flight from New Delhi (picture left) had a close shave after it was allegedly hit by a bird while landing at the Biju Patnaik International Airport on Thursday morning. The flight, which had taken off from New Delhi with 51 passengers and six crewmembers, landed here around 8.35am. Though the incident left the aircraft's nose cone (circled in red) badly damaged, no one was injured.
Sources said that the alleged bird-hit took place around 8.30am when the flight was just about to land. However, the airport authorities denied the allegation of bird-hit.
"The pilot of the vehicle reported to us the matter when the aircraft was about 70km away from Bhubaneswar. We have started an investigation and details can only be ascertained after a thorough inspection. The private airline will provide alternative arrangements for the passengers," said airport director R. Mahalingam.
The flight had a seating capacity of 148 passengers.
Passengers who were about to go to Delhi in the aircraft's return voyage had to wait for several hours because of the incident. "We were going through the security check after collecting our boarding passes when we were told about the incident by the security personnel. Despite our demand for alternative arrangements at the earliest possible opportunity, we are yet to get one," said Anand Kumar, a Delhi-bound passenger. The flight was scheduled to take off at9.25pm. But, it could not take off till the report was filed late in the evening.
A 12-hour bandh called by private autorickshaws and taxis also multiplied the hardship of the passengers. "I somehow managed to reach the airport despite the agitation. But after our flight was rescheduled, most of us failed to go to our homes because of the ongoing strike," said another Delhi-bound passenger.
On March 10, the landing of a Delhi-Bhubaneswar GoAir flight carrying 100 passengers and crewmembers was delayed after the aircraft was suspected to have taken a bird-hit at the airport. Frequent bird-hits at the airport have become a major concern for the airport authorities. Some 19 bird hits were reported in 2011, while it was 18 in 2012. In 2013 and 2014, 10 such incidents were reported. Last year, 12 bird-hits were reported.
Last year, the airport authorities had formed an expert panel to study the type of birds hovering around the airport. The team had identified about 50 species of birds, such as lapwings, black kites and grey francolin, that pose threat to flights. The team had also discovered nearly 100 other species of birds around the airport area.