Safety & Bird Hazard Management/Control
at Mumbai Airport
Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport provides an ideal grassland habitat for many bird species. A number of bird species are attracted to the airport to feed, perch, roost and breed;
this includes birds of prey, scavengers, & the ones that feed on insects and plant material. The airport is also surrounded by slums where, many meat shops, slaughtering of animals is done and waste and garbage disposal system is not done properly and also
their big open nallahs provide an attractive environment for birds.
WHAT IS BIRD STRIKE?
Bird strike is the term used to describe the collision of an aircraft with a bird. Collisions involving other animals are also recorded as animal strikes. All suspected or confirmed strikes
are reported to Director General of Civil Aviation.
PREDOMINANT BIRD SPECIES
Species most commonly involved in the bird strike incidents at Mumbai International Airport include Pariah Kite, Pigeons, Egrets, Owls, Myna, Red-Wattled Lapwing, Crows and Bats. Species
such as, Sandpiper, Black Eagle, Indian Pond Heron are also regularly observed at the airport but rarely struck by aircraft.
Different species of birds occupy and utilize different sectors of the environment and therefore, pose different risks to aircraft. For example, birds that hover above the ground searching
for prey (eg Pariah Kite, Eagle) pose a risk to aircraft during landing or take off. Bird species, such as Egrets, Crows & Pigeons form flocks which create the risk of multiple bird strikes. Other species, such as pigeons, sparrows feed on the ground around
taxiways and may be struck by taxiing aircraft. As a result each species needs to be managed differently.
IMPACT OF BIRD STRIKES
The primary risk associated with bird strike is the hazard posed to aviation safety. Bird strikes can cause significant damage to aircraft, aircraft crashes and potentially the loss of
human life. Colliding with a bird can cause millions of dollars damage to aircraft engines and turbines as well as contributing to airline costs due to grounding of aircraft for repair. It is also important to note the loss of the birds life as a result of
RESPONSIBILITIES OF MUMBAI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT LIMITED
MIAL, as the airport operator, is responsible for and committed to ensuring passenger safety. Under the International Civil Aviation Safety Regulations and Director General of Civil Aviation
the airport is required to reduce the risks associated with the bird strike.
WHAT IS DONE TO REDUCE THE RISK OF BIRD STRIKE?
MIAL has put in place management strategies to ensure airport operations are conducted safely. A Wildlife Hazard Management Policy has been developed and implemented at Mumbai Airport which
puts in place measures to reduce hazards associated with all wildlife. The most important objective is to maintain the grassland habitat around the runway in such a way so that birds are not encouraged to feed in areas close to the runways and taxiways. For
example, the grass is mowed regularly to a height (30-20 cms) that discourages birds that feed on bulbs and worms; weeds that are known food source for birds are minimized; and drains are kept clear of refuse which could attract birds.
Certain tree and shrub species used in landscaping may also potentially attract more birds to the vicinity of the airport. Therefore, the Environment Department of MIAL advises and approves
the landscaping plans for new developments at Mumbai Airport. MIAL has even produced Landscaping Guidelines that provide a preferred plant list to tenants and developers alike.
The Wildlife Officers employed by MIAL also have an important role in bird management and a three tier approach of – 1) Precaution 2) Prevention and 3) Remedial action is adopted. If
birds are posing a risk to aircraft and passenger safety, bird scarers deployed alongside the runway length use scare methods by exploding fire crackers in an attempt to disperse the flock and clear the birds away from the runways and taxiways. Wildlife Officers
also take their vehicles with bird scaring guns and cartridges which are used to disperse the flock. These cartridges produce a loud bang when fired which can help scare birds away from the immediate area. MIAL has also placed
Sound Devices (Super Pro Amp), which make loud explosive sounds at limited intervals, to
scare birds in the vicinity of runway.
Airfield Environment Management Committee meeting, chaired by State Environment Secretary held at airport and attended by MCGM, MIAL, Airlines, DGCA, Forest and NGO’s. Wildlife Hazard
section also conducting monthly joint inspection with BMC officials of all wards adjacent to CSI Airport.