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Economy

Airports authority tackles JKIA bird strike menace on flight path

A Kenya Airways plane at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE
A Kenya Airways plane at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE 

Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) plans to rehabilitate drainage and sewer systems along the Ruai flight path amid growing pressure to deal with bird strikes on aircraft using Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

George Amutete, head of the wildlife control section at KAA, said in an action plan seen by the Business Daily that the works would be carried out as part of the JKIA runway rehabilitation project.

“This will enable stoppage of open sewer ponds at the APTC (Administration Police Training College) that attracts large birds across the airport that are involved in strikes,” he said in the brief.

Airlines have complained about bird strikes in airports across the country, a trend partly blamed on the existence of garbage dumps on flight paths in major towns including Nairobi, Kisumu, Eldoret, Mombasa and Malindi.

In September, Kenya Airways formally complained to KAA following a series of bird strikes involving three of its planes.

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On August 27, 2014 a Kenya Airways plane taking off from JKIA reported a bird strike on the left part of the fuselage even though no damage occurred.

A day later, the crew of another KQ flight experienced a bird strike on the left engine lip on take-off, which caused a crack on the cowling—the outer cover of the engine.

A third bird strike was reported on September 11 on JKIA’s runway six as a KQ plane took off. The bird struck one of the plane’s windows, which was later inspected and cleared for flight upon landing in Eldoret.

“Your feedback on measures you are putting in place to deal with the bird hazard at the airports will be highly appreciated,” Peter Kimeria, flight safety manager at KQ, told KAA in a letter on September 12.

Besides rehabilitating the sewer and drainage systems, KAA remains opposed to creation of new dumpsites in Ruai, Mwakirunge in Mombasa, Kisian in Kisumu and Wilson in Nairobi.

“KAA together with KCAA (Kenya Civil Aviation Authority) has participated on the Nairobi County waste management taskforce where a technology has been identified for waste management in the county, which will only have nothing or ash being put at Ruai that will attract no birds,” Mr Amutete said in his brief. “With the technology, scavenging birds will reduce at and around the airport due to efficient waste management” he added.

Restrictions imposed by the aviation industry on areas that can be used for waste depositing have effectively left Nairobi with no viable alternative to the Dandora dumpsite, according to the new Nairobi master plan.

The city hosts three airports (JKIA, Wilson and Moi Air Base) and each has a 13km radius within which a sanitary landfill cannot be established.

This excludes most of Nairobi area that has available land meaning that the county would have to dump its garbage outside its boundaries, an unlikely scenario.

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