The collision of a SpiceJet Boeing 737 with a buffalo at the Surat airport in November last year highlighted the dangers of bird strikes and animal intrusion at airports. Following this, the Surat airport director was transferred to a remote airfield in Assam and an inspection was ordered of all airports to prevent recurrence of such incidents.
While the civil aviation ministry acted swiftly after the Surat incident, records show the government has not been serious about the hazards of animal and bird hits on planes.
The National Bird Control Committee (NBCC), formed in 2009 to take necessary steps to enhance air safety through exchange of know-how and co-ordination between the airlines and the Air Force, has not met even once in the past three years.
The NBCC comprises top bureaucrats of civil aviation, defence and environment ministries, and the representatives of airlines and airports. Its functions include collection and analysis of data, monitoring of bird control programmes at airports and imposing fines or order compensation to airlines, which suffer loss on account of bird strike.
According to information secured through the Right to Information Act, only three meetings of the NBCC have been held till now – in June 2009, November 2009 and June 2011. No meeting has been held since 2011.
The NBCC was reconstituted in December 2014 by then Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Arun Mishra but has not met till now. Sources say the DGCA has been taking up the issue of organising NBCC meetings with the civil aviation ministry, but the efforts have not been successful.