Saturday, November 03, 2012

Plane makes emergency landing after 'bird strike'

BHUBANESWAR: A New Delhi-bound flight landed within a few minutes of taking off from Biju Patnaik Airport here on Friday. While airport authorities described it as a "technical snag", passengers on board the flight said a bird hit had forced the plane to make an emergency landing.

"The flight took off well, but within a few minutes there was a jerk and the flight landed back. All the passengers were adjusted in other flights," said Jairam Rana, a passenger. But an airport official said, "We had to cancel the flight due to a technical snag." He, however, admitted that bird-hit cases are rampant at the airport and caused regular disruption of flights.

According to airport sources, around 22 cases of bird hits were reported at the city airport till October 31. But the actual number is more as not all the cases are reported unless they are serious, the sources added.

Airport director Sarad Kumar, who is in Mumbai, told TOI over phone: "We have written to the chief secretary, BMC authorities and forest officials about this menace. Everyone promised to help but no action was taken. Animal waste being dumped in and around the airport causes severe problem for operation of flights. Some strong action has to be taken in this regard by the civic authorites."

On Saturday, a truck load of animal waste was dumped near the airport boundary near Dumduma attracting large number of vultures. Following complaints from local residents, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials went for a spot verification and said they will issue a notice to the offender.

Though Airport Authority of India (AAI) guidelines stipulates that an area of 10km from runways should be free from any kind of dumping garbage, and meat and chicken shops, the guidelines are flouted in the case of Biju Patnaik Airport.

"Dumping of animal wastes in the locality is not new, but no steps are being taken against violators. I have filed a police complaint and written to all higher authorities but no one is listening. Due to these vultures, a major aviation accident is waiting to happen," said Md Azeemuddin, a resident of Dumduma area.

Airport officials, however, maintained that they were trying their best to avoid the eventuality of a major mishap. "We use crackers to scare away the birds. We have also appointed bird chasers who keep on moving at the airport to chase away birds during take-offs and landings," said H J Parmar, AGM, airport traffic. "Thanks to these measures, no big incident due to bird hit has occurred at the city airport in the last one year," Parmar added.

With the Centre assuring chief minister Naveen Patnaik to upgrade the city airport into an international airport, the state government had issued a directive to the civic and the airport authorities to ensure that there was no bird menace in the aerodrome area. "It has been decided to make airport buildings pigeon free. The slaughter houses around the aerodrome will be shifted to new locations," said mayor A N Jena.

In a severe blow to the city's air connectivity, Air India has decided to stop plying its two flights connecting Bhubaneswar with Kolkata and Chennai from Monday. The bad news comes just ahead of the onset of the peak tourist season. The national carrier issued a circular to all passenger sales agents on November 1 mentioning Air India flight AI-768 / 770 (Kolkata- Bhubaneswar- Kolkata) stands withdrawn with effect from November 5 till further notice. 


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