The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) on Wednesday in Lagos, disclosed that plans were underway to reduce wildlife strike hazard witnessed at airports in the country.
Mr Rabiu Yadudu, the Managing Director, FAAN, gave the assurance during the maiden edition of a symposium on Reduction on Wildlife Strike Hazard at Nigerian Airports.
“Wildlife strike affect airports small and large in all regions of the world, therefore it is both a risk to aviation safety and financial burden,” he said.
Yadudu said that according to International Civil Aviation Organisations (ICAO), wildlife represents 3.6 per cent of all aviation incidents.
“However, the figure from ICAO although looking small, is major giving the fact that a lot of these strikes go unnoticed while some are unrecorded.
“Therefore, a reduction of hazard from wildlife strike is a critical element in improving aviation safety.
“It is a nod to this and a recognition of the roles that stakeholders across the spectrum need to play in order to achieve this objective,” he said.
Yadudu said the symposium would ensure that the regulator, airport operators, air traffic providers, airline operators, pilots, wildlife managers and airport neighbours gain valuable information.
According to him, this entails plans, practice and procedures that can contribute to manage the risks associated with wildlife strike.
In his remark, the FAAN Director, Airport Operations, Mr Muktar Muye, said increased air traffic and growing bird population near airports raised the risk of aircraft-bird collision, known as bird strike.
“A little century ago when the aircraft was invented, little thought was spread to any notion of conflict that may arise by sharing the skies with the birds,” he said.
He said the reality today was that when aircraft and birds attempt to share same space at same time, then collision occurs, however, when it was a case of bird versus airline, both lose.
Muye admitted that the primary responsibility for elimination of collision hazard was on the airport operators.
He said: “However, bird strike incident can be a result of careless management of either wildlife population or habitat at or near airport.
“At FAAN, we are working with the regulator to develop and implement wildlife management plan for each of its airports which include training of its personnel to manage the programme.
“The onus is on the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to have appropriate regulation and legislation.
“This will further regulate the safety concern including those related to land use around aerodrome”.
Muye questioned if flights should be delayed to accommodate wildlife management activities and if crew could rely on data from wildlife management personnel to have safer operations among other questions.
Also, an Arik Air Pilot, Capt. Jide Bakare said the impact of bird strikes to the airline’s operations had been financially intensive to the airline with major impacts in Port Harcourt and Enugu.
Mr Bola Ahmed, an official from the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) called for little patience to enable both airport operators and airlines address the issue of bird strikes.
Ahmed said Enugu airport might have a lot of bird strikes because of the abattoir located near the runway.
He said 127 bird strike cases were recorded in 2019 and 193 recorded in 2017, while 98 and 58 cases were recorded in 2016 and 2015 respectively.