KAA on the spot over bird strikes menace on flight paths


KCAA director-general Gilbert Kibe. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) is on the spot for a lack of scaring kits at major airports to curb bird strikes blamed for emergency landings and repair costs running into millions of shillings.

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), which is mandated to ensure the safety of the airlines, said it had unsuccessfully held talks with the KAA to have the agency install bird scaring kits along the flight paths.

Cases of bird strikes are increasingly being cited as the cause of emergency landings at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi and Moi International Airport, Mombasa.

KCAA director-general Gilbert Kibe said the KAA needs to invest in a bird deterrent system to curb the dangers that are posed by these creatures along the flight paths and at the airports.

“KAA lacks more specialised equipment to deter these birds from colliding with the aircraft,” said Mr Kibe in an interview with the Business Daily.

While there is no technology to prevent bird strikes, airports can employ scaring techniques.

These include use pyrotechnic sound makers, Ultrasonic wave generators, cannons, trained animals and chemical repellents to scare away the birds.

In the latest incident of a bird strike, Kenya Airways flight to Mombasa was hit last week just few minutes after departure, forcing it to make an emergency landing at JKIA.

The move saw passengers that were heading to Moi International Airport in Mombasa delayed before arrangements were made to transfer them to a different aircraft.

Bird strikes have become a menace for aircraft operating in Kenya, with airlines reporting incidents every year, putting the lives of passengers at risk and subjecting companies to huge losses.

Airline operators say that bird strikes are costly because they lead to unforeseen expenses such as renting additional capacity to transport the stranded passengers, especially for carriers that do not have sufficient aircraft.