Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Mooney aircraft owner faces a repair bill of more than $100,000 after an encounter with a kangaroo at Kempsey Airport in New South Wales, Australia

Runway roulette: Kangaroo killed after being hit by plane

The owner and pilot of a small plane faces a repair bill of more than $100,000 after an encounter with a kangaroo at Kempsey Airport on Tuesday.

The Mooney aircraft, which had been flown from Port Macquarie, struck an adult kangaroo on the runway as it headed for a hangar, at about 2.30pm.

The kangaroo was hit by the propeller and the fuel tank on one of the wings, killing the animal.

Darren Gibson chief engineer at Macleay Aircraft Maintenance said the pilot had walked away unscathed.

"(The pilot) is fairly laid back, it would take a lot to shake him," he said. "He came around and said 'someone might have to pull a kangaroo off the runway'.

"If it had happened during take-off, when the plane would've been going a lot faster, it would've been a different story."

Mr Gibson said it was the first time he had known of an aircraft striking a kangaroo, but said bird strikes were relatively common.

"There should be a fence it would need to be seven or eight feet (2.13m to 2.43m) high," he said. "Everywhere else has a fence other places that do don't get kangaroos. This might be the catalyst for a fence."

By law, the collision must be reported to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

Kempsey Shire Council's infrastructure services director Robert Scott said it had been the first recorded incident at the airport of a plane hitting an animal in the past 10 years.

"We have had a couple of reports of near-misses involving birds and concerns have been raised about the presence of kangaroos at the airport," Robert Scott said.

"Council adopted a Wildlife Hazard Management plan for the airport, which is focused on providing a better understanding and evaluating the risk of collision."

Mr Scott said measures included runway clearances for aircraft taking off or landing at night, and during routine inspections; keeping grass short; and a communication system warning pilots of the risk of wildlife.

There are no plans to fence the airport.

Last year $150,000 of a federal government grant, promised by the former Labor government, had been set aside for the construction of a fence.

But the funding promise was scrapped by the new Coalition government.

Story and photos:   http://www.portnews.com.au

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