KAA urges airlines to be on high alert to avoid bird strikes


KCAA Director General Gilbert Kibe. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The recent bird strike involving a Jambojet flight to Kisumu has put the aviation sector on high alert as the season of bird migration in the region continues.

The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) said bird strikes around this time are due to the migratory birds.

KAA noted that they have acquired pyrotechnique equipment, including assorted wildlife deterrent guns, to scare away the birds from flight paths.

“Unprecedented high rains heightened by bird migration period pose a serious risk of bird strike in airports and this is what we are witnessing at the moment,” said KAA in an interview with Shipping and Logistics.

KAA said it takes the risks that bird strike pose to the airlines seriously. Currently, the agency is in the process of procuring bird strike avoidance equipment systems — which include birds’ radar — as it seeks to bring the menace to an end.

A Jambojet flight last Friday struck a bird as it landed at the Kisumu International Airport (KIA), leading to delays for passengers who were to fly back on the same aircraft to Nairobi.

Kisumu Airport is a hotspot for bird strikes in the country according to KAA, with its geographical location making it a favourite destination for birds due to the fresh water lake nearby.

KAA said three quarters of the airport is surrounded by Lake Victoria whose water and shores are home to different species of birds. The agency added that the airport is close to the equator, meaning it also hosts different migratory birds.

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) said the mandate of managing wildlife lies with KAA but they are coordinating with the authority to bring the situation under control.

“Our work is to record the incidents involving bird strikes with the role of management resting with KAA. However, we can collaborate to address the issue,” says KCAA Director General Gilbert Kibe.

Mr Kibe said KAA had already put some mechanisms at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to deter birds from flying over the flight paths.

Statistics shared in a past report show that during the period between July 2017 to March 2018 the bird strike rate analysis at KAA airports was 8.16 bird strikes per 10,000 aircraft movements. About 81.2 percent of the strikes were none damaging while 18.2 percent were damaging.

“It is practically impossible to have zero strikes in any busy airport, and therefore the strategy of KAA is to target the species that can cause most damage to aircrafts and to reduce bird strikes to as low as practically possible,” KAA said.