Birds and other animals could present a greater threat to aircraft in India as the coronavirus limits human activity including wildlife management at airports, the country’s aviation regulator warned Monday.
Many airports are near wetlands that attract large migratory birds, which pose a collision threat to aircraft. Meanwhile, a sharp reduction in aviation activity has given birds and other wildlife a greater opportunity to thrive, India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation said in a notice to airport operators.
“Many regular activities such as grass cutting, bird activity monitoring patrols, and dispersal measures may be limited given the current situation of reduced manpower and lower aircraft movements,” the DGCA said.
To minimize the risk of collisions, airport operators should continue to monitor wildlife and not ease control measures, it said. “Particular attention should be given to increase of bird/wildlife activities as a result of reduced air traffic.”
Bird strikes are fairly common and can cause crashes. The Federal Aviation Administration in the US said it received reports of 16,000 wildlife strikes in 2018, up from about 1,800 in 1990. Expanding wildlife populations, increased aircraft movement, a trend toward faster and quieter jets, and outreach to the aviation community all contributed to the jump, it said.
In 2013, a PT Lion Mentari Airlines Boeing Co. 737-800 aircraft hit a cow after landing in Sulawesi, and two years later a SpiceJet Ltd. plane skidded off a runway in central India after encountering a wild boar. In 2009, a flock of geese struck a US Airways plane, knocking out both engines. Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger managed to put the Airbus SE A320 down on the Hudson River and no one died, inspiring a Hollywood movie.