Nigerian Airlines Report High Bird Strike Levels With 96 Incidents in 6 Months

Several aircraft parked at Nigeria's Lagos terminal
Hansueli Krapf, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – Reports have found that Nigerian airlines have experienced a significant number of bird strike incidents this year, with 96 recorded incidents in the first 6 months of 2022. 54 of the recorded incidents for the January to June period were reported in the vicinity of Lagos Airport.

The Nigerian airport authority, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), has blamed airline pilots for high rate of bird strike occurrences, claiming many potentially violated ATC instructions whilst trying to hasten departures.

This week, at an industry workshop organised by the Search and Rescue Mission of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the FAAN representative for its Bird Control Unit at Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, Adetunji Adetutu made the observation about airline departure procedures.

Mr Adetutu claimed some of the pilots hurried their departure procedures and violated the instructions of air traffic controllers in the process. FAAN have adopted airport bird repelling measures in more recent times, and Adetutu stated that the implementation of this technology had resulted in a reduction of incidents.

Nevertheless, he insisted that it was necessary for a cultural change on the part of the airlines and flight crews to remain compliant with ATC instructions and directives. 98% of all recorded bird strikes occurred at airports during the take-off and landing phases, according to Adetutu.

This is generally consistent with experiences globally, where commercial aircraft become more prone to bird strike whilst ascending or descending through lower altitudes typically inhabited by birds.

Adetutu said: “The final say on what happens to the aircraft lies with the pilots. Until the ATC gives clearance for pilots to depart or land, it is necessary for pilots to listen to their advice.”

“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. The runway should be free of activities at take-off and landing.”

The importance of bird repellent technology at airport facilities was reinforced by the Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator (NAMA), Olanrewaju Iwalaye, who urged the continued procurement of the equipment.

The same initiatives were being implemented at other Nigerian airports, including the Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Omagwa, Aminu Kano International Airport (AKIA), Kano, and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Port Harcourt.

Mr Iwalaye concluded: “We need to find a way to address this challenge. Birds are in their natural habitat and most of our airports are built close to the forest. Apart from birds, we also have wildlife animals, which are also striking. We hope to propose on mitigation in order to address it. We also need to know the activities of birds too.”

AviationSource recently reported on a bird strike incident which saw an Air Peace aircraft carry out an unscheduled return to Lagos Airport after a bird strike during its approach to Owerri airport caused problems with the aircraft’s left-hand undercarriage assembly.

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