New dumpsite in Kisumu risks aircraft safety


KAA operations and safety general manager Harrison Machio speaks in Kisumu on June 18, 2019. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI

Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) has raised the alarm over possible bird strikes on aircraft using the Kisumu International Airport following the relocation of the county dumpsite to a flight path.

General manager in charge of operations and safety Harrison Machio said the new dumpsite is within 13km radius from the airport. Kisumu moved the dumpsite from Kachok, which is about 2km from the town centre, to Kajulu 7km away.

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

The Kajulu dumpsite, which is 12km from the airport, is prone to scavenging birds that risk colliding with planes at a time Kisumu Airport has witnessed a rise in domestic flights.

“One bird strike can bring down an aircraft and associated losses, including loss of lives,” Mr Machio said at a briefing in Kisumu.

The KAA reckons that recently an airline was left with a Sh500,000 bill after a bird strike.

The 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, which is mandated to ensure the safety of the airlines, recently said it had unsuccessfully held talks with the KAA over installation bird-scaring kits along the flight paths.

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 a few minutes after departure, forcing it to make an emergency landing at the JKIA.

The move saw passengers that were heading to Mombasa delayed before they were transferred 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 firms to huge losses.

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