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Multi-agency team tasked to address bird strikes at airports

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has established a multi-agency team to address rising cases of bird strikes at airports across the country.

The team comprising Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and County Governments will work with KCCA officials to mitigate the menace which is a threat to safety of the airspace in the country.

KCAA Director General Captain Gilbert Kibe said the birds not only endangered the users of air transport, but also caused damage on aircrafts which was expensive to repair.

Meanwhile, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) was leading with 22 cases reported per month.

Wajir Airport was second with 12 cases reported every month, followed by Kisumu International Airport with 3-6 bird strikes reported monthly.

The multi-agency team was exploring all avenues to address the menace, including ways of handling other wild animals likely to pose a danger to the aviation sector.

The measures will include removal of dump sites located near airports to control the birds. “This waste is what attracts birds therefore we are working with the relevant county governments to relocate the dumping sites far away from the airports,” said Kibe.

Consequently, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has been engaged to come up with bird deterrent systems to help reverse the trend.

Speaking in Kisumu during a round table meeting with the media, Kibe said stringent measures have been put in place to ensure that the Kenyan airspace remains safe adding that the last International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) rated Kenya 75.41% against a global average score of 65.3% and regional average 61.1%.

The KCAA Kisumu office, he said, has put stringent measures in place to ensure the airport runs smoothly as the city gears to hosting the Afri-Cities conference.

“We expect over ten Heads of State and a host of other dignitaries to fly to Kisumu for this conference. Our officers are on the ground to ensure that everything runs smoothly,” he said.

Captain Kibe further cautioned against illegal flying of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (drones) as their usage gains popularity across the country.

He said KCAA has only licensed 200 drones and 300 pilots since the law regulating their usage came into effect on 30th March 2020.

The use of drones was expected to increase significantly given the rising demand for data collection, research, environmental conservation initiatives, mapping and academic research.

“The authority notes that drones are increasingly becoming part of business in provision of other services including health care emergency services, creative economy, filming industry, sports and news gathering,” he said.

The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Regulations 2020 requires a person owning and operating a drone to register it and obtain a license from KCAA.

To operate a Class A Unmanned Aircraft which is less risky, an operator is required to pay Sh3, 000 as registration fees and Sh2, 000 authorization fee every time the drone is used.

Kibe cautioned against illegal use of the drones as witnessed during the political rallies, adding that anybody found culpable risked Sh2 million fine, six months in jail or both.

By Chris Mahandara

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