Wildlife hazards haunt Nepal’s sole international airport

A Bhutan Airlines flight from Paro has executed a “missed approach” at the Tribhuvan International Airport after the captain of Airbus 319 aircraft witnessed a he-goat roaming around the runway this afternoon.

The TIA Spokesperson Prem Nath Thakur confirmed that the goat suddenly reached the runway forcing the captain of B3 771 flight to go through the missed approach procedures when he was conducting a final approach for landing at the TIA.

According to him, the senior captain performed the missed approach at 12:25 pm while the TIA authority also closed the runway for five minutes. The 122-seater aircraft with 68 passengers and eight crew members on board, however, made a safe landing in the second attempt after officials at the TIA’s Airside Management Division cleared the runway by capturing the animal, Thakur told THT Online.

Preliminary investigations discovered that the animal had accessed the sensitive runway area through the Nepal Army’s Kali Prasad Battalion, the army unit placed to look after the airport security.

“The TIA management will discuss the issue with the NA officials on Sunday,” the Spokesperson said, claiming that it was also the negligence on part of the security officials.

The country’s sole international airport operated by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has long been facing wildlife hazards involving monkeys, dogs, cows, buffalos, rats, rodents and cats. Such animals pose a serious threat to air safety, according to the airlines operators.

The irony, however, is that TIA lacks qualified wildlife management experts as per the stipulations of the International Civil Aviation Organisation. The UN aviation agency prescribes that a wildlife management expert with a university degree in ornithology with a minimum of 10 years of experience in airport bird hazard studies and in the preparation of control programmes should be employed.

“The CAAN’s top guns are more concentrated on monetary commission that they can easily pocket by approving multimillion-dollar projects while such sensitive positions at TIA continue to be handled by former Air Traffic Controllers with no ornithological backgrounds, leading to a grim situation,” an international airline station manager commented. “If safety is expensive, try an accident.”

The TIA Spokesperson, however, said that the airport management was planning to deploy another squad of five hunters in landside areas of the airport to control the wildlife activities.

“The TIA now has a five-member hunter squad being active round the clock only at the airside areas,” he informed.

Source: THT