Pokhara International Airport has high risk of plane colliding with birds

Published On: January 17, 2023 05:15 PM NPT By: Santosh Pokharel

POKHARA, Jan 17: On Sunday, an ATR72-500 series plane of Yeti Airlines with call sign 9N ANC crashed in Pokhara killing 72 passengers. The cause of the accident has not yet been identified. There are lots of speculations about the cause of the accident. The government has formed an investigation committee to study the incident. The process of identifying the dead bodies of the crash victims and handing them over to their relatives is currently underway.

Before the dust could settle, another airplane had a narrow escape on Monday as it collided with a bird while landing at the Pokhara Regional International Airport. However, it did not cause human casualties and physical damage to the plane. The bird that collided with the aircraft died. The bird removal team of the airport later removed the pieces of the dead bird from the runway. The airport has not made any official statement about the collision between the plane and the bird.

The plane that collided with the bird landed at Pokhara airport at 1:15 pm. Airport sources said that the aircraft, which arrived in Pokhara from Kathmandu carrying passengers in its full capacity, collided with an eagle on the east section of the runway while landing. According to bird experts, it was an endangered species of bird.

“The aircraft was landing from the Bijaypur side. It collided with the bird as it touched the runway," the source said, adding, "Later, the dead bird was removed. The airport was reopened after the runway was cleared.”

According to the source, the crew reported to the airport’s control tower about the 'bird-hit' incident. The aircraft crew also filled the required forms but it took off from Pokhara to Kathmandu in regular time after that there was no problem with the plane.

"Such incidents should  not be hidden. We should brainstorm about how to reduce the risk," said an eyewitness, adding, "The state has invested heavily in the airport." If the incident gets repeated, the credibility of the airport will be under question.”

Experts had warned beforehand that there was a risk of bird-strike at Pokhara Regional International Airport. Prior to the operation of the international airport, experts had suggested that a landfill site nearby should be moved away at least six months before the airport comes into operation as the birds are attracted due to the landfill site located near the airport. However, the landfill site was shifted just a week before the airport became operational on January 1.

Bikram Gautam, head of Pokhara office of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), said that he had no information about the collision of the plane with the bird. "I have not received any information about the 'bird-hit' incident," he said, "I also have to find the details." 

As soon as they see a bird in the sky, there are people deployed to chase it away. Bird experts say that there are 167 species of birds in the airport area. Among them, seven species fall in the endangered list.

Airline officials say that if there is a problem of bird hit at Pokhara International Airport, priority should be given to seek a solution. 

“Such incidents should not be hidden, but should be brought out and resolved," said a senior official of a private airline company. "This may cause problems in the future as well,” said the official.

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