At least 20 airplanes operated by local airlines have been destroyed by bird strikes at airports across the country in the past few months.
Aircraft have been grounded as a result of the bird hits, which range in severity from minor to catastrophic damages, according to information obtained by The Guardian.
Findings earlier indicated that 60 out of the 98 listed aircraft were grounded while the eight active domestic airlines operated at a combined fleet capacity of 38.77%, pending the availability of foreign exchange profits to cover maintenance costs.
In the first half of 2022, local aviation reported 93 bird strike events, of which 54 happened at Lagos’s busiest airport, Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA).
Azike Edozie, the head of bird/wildlife hazard control at the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), lamented the prevalence of bird strike occurrences in the sector and their expensive costs, which run into the millions of dollars for airlines.
“My records indicate that between January of this year and June, there were at least 93 occurrences of bird strikes in all of our airports,” said Edozie. And out of this total, 54 of them occurred in the Lagos Airport alone, accounting for around 70% of all incidences.
“We all have to proffer solutions to this menace and I do hope we have a lasting solution to it because everyone, especially the airlines are losing money.”
The data were accurate, according to the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of an airline.
“We have recorded a lot of them that were brought to the public glare, except where the passengers raised alarms. It often ranges from minor to severe damages to the engine. Very severe ones that significantly damage one or two of the engines should be over 20 given the frequency of the incidents lately,” he said.
At least 30 bird attack incidents were documented in the industry between 2020 and 2021. Half of these events occurred at the Lagos Airport, with 19 taking place during takeoff and another 18 on landing.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria made adequate investments and implemented controls to prevent the mishaps (FAAN). A year ago, FAAN distributed fresh sets of wildlife management tools to aerodromes all around the country.
Sadiku Rafindadi, Director of Commercial and Business Development FAAN, declared that the deployment will herald in a time of safe flight operations since instances involving bird strikes would become a thing of the past at the deployment’s flag-off in Lagos.
Adetunji Adetutu, Head of Unit, Bird Control FAAN, stated that FAAN was making every effort to stop the incident’s spread through the purchase of contemporary equipment, which he claimed had significantly lessened its effects.
Adetutu added that some pilots “ignore the directives of Air Traffic Controllers (ATC)” and are constantly rushing to leave one airport for another, which is why the business has such high bird strike rates.
Adetutu observed that 98% of bird strike cases took place at airports, particularly during takeoff and landing.
The pilots have the last word in what happens to the aircraft. Pilots must heed their instructions until the ATC provides the all-clear for them to take off or land.
“Airline operators should have a change of culture on how we carry out our duties. It’s the suitability of the environment that brings birds to the airport environment. We have water, shelter and food around the airports. Runway should be free of activities at take-off and landing.”
He added that most of the birds that cause trouble at airports travel to Africa during a specific season from other continents.