Frequent bird strikes have prompted the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) to set aside 1 billion shillings to help fight the menace and improve operations in major airports.
Bird strikes have been causing airlines to make emergency landings and costing the airlines billions to repair damaged engines.
This initiative by the KAA will have a bird strike avoidance radar installed in three major airports in Kenya: Kisumu international Airport, The Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and The Moi International Airport in Mombasa.
“We have an ambitious plan to acquire bird strike avoidance radar that, if installed, can help visualize birds as far as five nautical miles away and warn pilots in advance, or for the staff to take appropriate control measures,” said KAA’s head of wildlife control unit, Mr. George Amutete.
“We have to attain high standards of operations and safety in our airports to maintain Kenya’s status as a regional hub,” Mr. Ambete added.
According to Mr. Amutete, the radar will help avoid and reduce damages that are associated with airplane engines from 33 percent to about 5 percent.
Other airports have not been prioritized in the plan due to low traffic and financial constraints.
Wajir Airport, for instance, is prone to bird strikes due to proximity to a slaughterhouse and poor sanitary-related conditions which make birds always hovering around.
Kisumu International Airport, on the other hand, has the bird strikes due to the Lake. Victoria, which is a source of water and food for the birds.
30 percent of the damage of aircraft engines, is caused by foreign objects such as birds and stones. This is a finding made by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
When a foreign object enters the engine when in motion, the engine is most likely to fail or burst into flames, which has caused several airlines to make emergency landings, burn in mid-air or even crash to result in loss of life and other serious damages.
Through the new radar technology, such strikes will be easily detected by the wildlife control staff and help warn the pilots in due time.
This is still a proposal that is set to be implemented in the next financial year, with the first installation being rolled at the Kisumu International Airport.
Plains at the Kisumu International Airport are the most likely to experience bird strikes at a rate of 19.8 to 10,000 aircraft according to KAA statistics.