Tanzania: Airport Employs Catapults to Avert Bird Strike Disasters

THE Arusha Airport is now employing the use of catapults to avert bird strike disasters.

The Airport's Management said it has resorted to using slingshots in scaring away birds, thus preventing them from getting sucked by aircraft engines during landing and take-offs.

"Much as we haven't had any such cases at the airport, we wouldn't want to take anything for granted," observed Arusha Airport Manager Elipid Tesha, on Monday evening, while presenting a report to the Tanzania Airports Authority (TAA) Ministerial Advisory Board on the airport's status.

According to Engineer Tesha, though bird strikes were uncommon at the airport, it was still imperative to take precautionary measures that could prevent such catastrophes from happening.

On December 9 2018, Precision Air flight 722 suffered multiple bird strikes, while on final approach to Mwanza Airport.

The aircraft, an ATR 72-500, with a twin-engine turboprop was on a scheduled passenger flight from Nairobi to Mwanza via Kilimanjaro with four crew and 68 passengers on board.

No injuries were reported in the incident, save for partial damage the aircraft suffered.

A bird strike is strictly defined as a collision between a bird and an aircraft, which is in flight or on a takeoff or landing roll.

According to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), bird strike is common and can be a significant threat to aircraft safety.

For a smaller aircraft, significant damage may be caused to its mechanism; especially jet engines are vulnerable to the loss of thrust, which can follow the ingestion of birds into engine air intakes. This has resulted in a number of fatal accidents, according to the specialised UN agency.

In the same vein, Engineer Tesha informed the advisory board that recent extension of the runway had enabled huge aircraft such as the Bombardier to land and taxi on the 65 year-old airport.

"The airport's turning pads have been extended by 150 and 50 metres respectively, enabling big planes to operate without any obstacles," he said.

He further told the board that his office had engaged the Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS) in the region to have part of the Arusha-Dodoma highway, which sits adjacent to the runway, moved 230 metres away.

According to Engineer Tesha, the road was proving to be an obstacle to the airport as it was within 40 metres from the runway, which is against international standards.

In his remarks, one of the board members Engineer Daniel Benjamin Kiunsi advised the airport's management to document all cases of security lapses at the airport with a view of averting them in the future.

Classified as ARK by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and HTAR by ICAO, Arusha Airport is a domestic airport with a valid licence which runs until 31 July this year. On average, the airport registers 140 flights, raking about 3.5bn/- revenue.

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