Officials take aim at “bird hazard” to prevent future flight sabotage
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Wednesday April 11, 2012 – Aviation officials in the twin-island republic are taking action to alleviate the “bird hazard” that forced the emergency landings of two aircraft leaving Piarco International Airport over the Easter weekend.
On Friday, a United Airlines flight bound for Houston had to return to Piarco when a collision with birds stalled one of its engines. A similar incident occurred on Sunday, forcing a Caribbean Airlines flight bound for New York to make an emergency landing.
Transport Minister Devant Maharaj ordered an immediate investigation into the incidents and mandated the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (AATT) to “immediately fix” the situation.
AATT head Ramesh Lutchmedial said the birds were attracted to farm crops and a dumping ground along the Mausica Road which runs parallel to the runway.
“Bird hazard is a major problem and airports have to do what they can to mitigate that problem,” he said.
He stated that when farmers got permission to plant that specific area, they were told not to grow crops like peas and corn that would attract birds. “We told them they had to be careful,” he said.
Lutchmedial said that officials have spoken again to the nearby farmers on Mausica Road in response to the weekend incidents, which also prompted a meeting to find a solution to the issue.
“It may be that they have to get rid of the crops that are attracting the birds,” he said.