Bird Strikes Still Hound Airport

The threat of bird strikes continue to hound the country's aviation safety with the number of bird strike incidents increasing exponentially at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

During the first half of 2012, 39 bird strike incidents have already been recorded by the safety division of the airport, almost a 50 percent increase from the incidents recorded the previous year.

Data from the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) showed that a total of 39 strikes have already been reported by various air carriers from January to July, this year.

This number includes incidents involving the Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Zest Air, Cathay Pacific, Jet Star Asia, Air Philippines Express, and Qatar Airways.

According to experts, a 175-hectare man-made bird sanctuary in the Las Piñas-Parañaque Coastal area, which lies within the flight path of NAIA, is the main source of wild birds that cause the strikes in the area.

Airport General Manger Jose Angel Honrado said the MIAA is working proactively to have the sanctuary removed to lessen the threat of bird strikes to aircrafts using the NAIA.

"Whatever precautions we take will be next to useless because it (bird sanctuary) is almost at our door," Honrado said.

The airport chief added "Why should we wait for something bad to happen before we do something about this?"

In the United States (US), reports show that similar strikes have thus far resulted in 24 deaths and 235 injuries since 1998.

A Cebu Pacific flight was grounded at the Awang Airport in Maguindanao last Wednesday after its engines ingested a flock of birds shortly before landing.

The return flight had to be cancelled and resulted to passenger inconvenience and operational losses to the airline company.

Last August 28, a Philippine Airlines jet was hit by a flock of wild ducks while on its final approach to the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban City.

The bird strike crippled the plane upon touchdown. Luckily, no one among its passengers and crew were injured in the incident.

PAL reported a similar bird strike, which occurred earlier in July 24, this year, involving flight PR105 that just arrived in Manila from Guam. The aircraft's entire set of fan blades had to be replaced due to irreparable damage.

Since 2006, a total of 208 bird strikes have been recorded by the flag carrier with Manila, where the premier NAIA is located, having the most number of incidents.

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